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

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

HAPPY 2018 HALLOWEEN! (AKA What Am I Watching this year?)

Welp, it's October 31st here in the Philippines! That means-

Absolutely nothing unless you're age 10 and below. In case you are, then it means candy and a week off school. But for me-

IT'S HALLOWEEN!

And as someone who's practically an adult living in a country that doesn't recognize Halloween as a holiday, I mostly celebrate this by runecasting at a nearby church watching spooky movies from years old and new! So today, I decided to share with you my picks for my annual Halloween viewing! From a children's flick about evil witches to a hospital raided by eldritch entities, let's begin my picks with:

Gon-ji-am (2018) (AKA "Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum") - A very recent horror movie from South Korea following a group of Youtubers livestreaming a documentary style urban exploration of the titular asylum. Shot in a Found Footage format, the film isn't shy on tackling classic tropes and trappings of both Asian ghost flicks and mockumentary films, but what makes this film stand out is that the premise itself help elevate the sense of dread and nightmarish imagery that eventually starts haunting our crew, which includes effective jumpscares and loads of creepy imagery.

The Witches (1990) - Based on a children's book by Roald Dahl, this 90s fantasy horror "family" picture tells the story of a young boy named Luke who, after being orphaned, finds himself under the loving arms of his grandmother who appears to know a lot about what true witches are like. This odd knowledge soon comes in handy when the hotel they are staying at for a vacation turns out to be the meeting place of all the witches in England. It's now up to our two unlikely heroes to stop these hags from executing their plans on murdering hundreds of children with candy, so long as they don't become victims of these witches' wicked spells and potions themselves.

A little dated on some department, but nevertheless enjoyable on a darkly humorous way, The Witches is a fun little devious addition to this year's fright and gore heavy viewing. But I like to balance out the horror and fun in my movie lists and this one titles is fun enough for the dark holiday!

The Blob (1988) - I could have gone with the classic 1958 version with its funky opening music and cheese, but the matter of the fact is that the monster there is hardly threatening. Memorable, yeah, but its fear factor dwindled down when you realize how slow that blob is and you can simply just walk five feet away from it and blast it frozen with a fire extinguisher with some ease. The 1988 version, however, is a predatory monster with a limitless hunger that not only can squeeze into places to reach you, but squeeze, crush, bend and/or obliterate you so you're that much easier for it to eat, all in glorious glorious old fashioned practical effects!

The movie is your classic midnight monster genre with a comet containing the titular creature crash landing on a nearby town, releasing it with nothing in its nature but to eat, absorb and grow. In typical 80s monster movie fashion, it's up to a pair of teens who encountered and survived an attack from the blob to warn the townfolk of the danger, given they're not too late.

The Void (2016) - A modern day cult classic follows a strange night in a hospital where a cop, the hospital's staffs and patients are held inside the building by a cloaked cult-like figures. Little do these trapped individuals know is that there's something sinister happening within the hospital as patients start to go deformed and murderous, leading to horrific monster attacks and what could be an Apocalyptic end to all.

Kinda underrated but well worth the look, especially if you're into raw horror aesthetics like amazing practical and make-up effects, gory kills and Lovecraftian themes. It's basically a horrorhound's wet dream, given that you don't mind the attempted cerebral horror that appears to coat the story.

Trick 'R Treat (2007) - This is basically the horror movie to rival John Carpenter's Halloween as a holiday classic. Trick 'R Treat follows five gruesome tales within a small Ohio town during their annual Halloween celebration night as child murderer tries his hardest to cover his track, a girl in a Red Riding Hood costume gets stalked by a masked man, a group of kids visits a supposedly haunted quarry, a bitter young wife gets a painful lesson for breaking a Halloween rule and an old man is visited by who could be the spirit of Halloween itself.

Chock full of monsters, ghouls, scares and lots of nasty treats, done in a lush production value and colorful band of characters, Trick 'R Treat is one horror movie that understood the dark nature of Halloween and twisted it enough to give us this energetic, eerie and often darkly funny anthology movie.

WNUF Halloween Special (2013) - A definitive midnight movie, this is a cult classic that takes the mockumentary sub-genre into the limelight as it features what look like a news program special focusing on Halloween and a planned event by the station wherein one of their reporter follows a priest and a pair of occult experts inside a supposedly haunted building. What follows is a lot of tracking, vintage commercials, and a slow yet satisfying build to a messed up ending that's definitely shocking.

If you hadn't seen this one, then I really recommend hunting this film down especially if you love a good old-fashioned scare and a bit nostalgic just like me. I cannot stress enough how one should see this from beginning to end coz the pay off really sticks as one of the chilling final scenes in a horror flick that starts out like a joke.

~~~

And there you have my list of watchables this year! Really wish I could do more for Halloween this year but it falls on a workday and with the recent storm brewing, I guess being cozy at home while it rains outside doesn't sound too bad!

 What else can I say but have a Happy Halloween and watch out for monsters!


The Night He Came Home Again. In 2018: Halloween (2018)

Halloween (2018)
Rating: ****
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak 

Black cats and goblins and broomsticks and ghosts.
Covens of witches with all of their hopes. 
You may think they scare me. You're probably right. 
But nothing's more frightening than a disappointing horror sequel hype!

And praise the gods, that's not the case here!

Taking place in an alternate continuity from John Carpenter's Halloween, Halloween (2018) (really wished they came up with a much more creative title, folks) starts forty years after the infamous Haddonfield murders of ’78 with The Shape, aka Michael Myers, apparently got shoved back to Smith's Grove Sanitarium after getting recaptured by responding police the night he came home. He remained mostly unresponsive to any kind of advances since and it appears he's not gonna change this situation until, that is, a pair of British true crime podcasters researching the Haddonfield murders visits him and tries coaxing him into talking by showing him his signature mask. Of course, like the silent maniacal trooper he is, Michael chose not to talk so our duo of journalists decided to, instead, bribe an interview with the one that got away, Laurie Strode.

Suffering from PTSD from the night Michael murdered her friends, Laurie is now a twice-divorced recluse, living in a gated backwoods home rigged with traps and heavy security systems, as well as enough gun supply fit for a small platoon. The interview, though, didn't go too well as Laurie fails to see the sense of understanding a pointless crime and eventually asks the interviewers to leave before heading out to meet up with her granddaughter Alyson, the only one in her family who's patient enough to reach out to her.

Later that evening happens to be the night Smith's Grove is making a prison transfer, with Michael being one of the loonies being moved. Laurie, knowing this, watches nearby in her truck, trying her darnest to face him in person so she could finally move on, but her frustrations got the best of her and it's soon all too late to do anything when the bus eventually leaves with The Shape.
And as you would expect, the bus crashes somewhere enroute to the awaiting asylum, with Michael being the perpetrator and is now killing his way back to Haddonfield, Illinois to continue his murder spree. Strode gets a whip of this news so she desperately tries to convince her daughter (and Alyson's mother) Karen to move her family in to the backwoods-house-cum-panic-room for their protection, only for her panic to be talked down as another case of hysteria. For now. 

It isn't too long before the boogeyman is back in town and once Halloween night falls, we get an impressively executed massacre including a kill-filled tracking shot of our boogeyman working his way through two houses and one babysitter murder that's actually kinda horrifying considering how fun the characters were before Mr. Myers crashes in and sticks his knife in places that'll bleed. When Michael starts killing off Alyson's friends and nearly gets the Strode's beloved granddaughter, the town's good ole' deputy have no choice but to team up with Myer's current doctor and, in a way, Laurie to hunt the masked menace down before more innocent lives are taken this Halloween night, which meant more bloodshed and a slightly pointless twist until it's all but our three Strode women going toe-to-toe against our hulking slasher. 

As a sequel, Halloween (2018) does a sound job keeping up with the tone of the original, paying a good amount of nostalgia and homage, while respecting it enough to push the story slightly forward from your standard slasher concept of a killer loose and murdering people by breaking some of the tropes and throw a few gambling curve ball at us. At times, this work when the story focuses on certain elements such as this film's own take on Laurie Strode as a slasher villain prepper with one or two screws loose and, of course, Michael Myer's stabby rampage into and through Haddonfield where anyone can be his victim, but there are some parts of the film that definitely didn't, or at least needed a few tweaks for them to work.

For one, seeing that this film puts a decent amount of attention from Michael's and Laurie's sides of the story, the set-up between Laurie and her estrangement from her daughter Karen just felt rushed, often lacking enough depth to make it engaging enough to warrant the emotional baggage the movie was aiming for during the climax. Equally, I find the parts concerning Strode's granddaughter Alyson and her gaggle of teen friends to be just "there", as while their scenes are nothing bad and, at times, even adorable and heartbreaking, I can't help but feel they could have been incorporated into prepper Strode's plight to rescue as many as she could from The Shape a lot better. Instead, a chunk of them were ruthlessly slaughtered off in fairly gruesome fashions, making them simple throwaway lambs for the slaughter, albeit I do find it curious that the most death-deserving of them gets to walk away unpunished

And then there's that one twist  that involves Myer's current psychologist that frankly baffles me in its inclusion within the story. Again, not that this was a bad turn of events, but this twist came and went randomly at the third of the movie and it adds little to nothing to the story apart from shock value and additional casualties to the madness that is our boogeyman. I get it that this was to show how some people find the concept of evil intriguing enough to go through many lengths to study it, but I really think this should have been dabbled on in a less shlocky way.

Halloween (2018) also noticeable lacks the slow-burn creepiness of the original, something I personally believe could have also worked with the movie's direction of breaking the norms but, nevertheless, it does make up for it by making Michael pretty terrifying here. With the story being a direct sequel of the original and disregarding all other sequels and remakes throughout the years, we're basically back to square one with The Shape and we are given no clear motive as to why he is killing in the first place, bringing the character back to his more mysterious roots complete with unnerving silence and unflinching high tolenrance for pain. Add the fact that he's doing more killing and less creeping in this sequel and the murders he is committing are far more violent than the first movie's (half of them being some of the best uses of offscreen carnage), he's practically less a masked-man-with-a-knife here and more "murder 'incarnate'".

And of course, we cannot have a throwback-esque Halloween sequel without talking about Jamie Lee Curtis' return as a more badass Laurie Strode with a morbid and extreme yet soon-to-be justified sense of closure. Her tough-as-nails performance as a developed final girl character fits perfectly with director David Gordon Green's stab on the idea of role reversals and unconventional growth, as not only does Laurie's training and preparation to hunt the hunter meant longing vengeance against the thing that ruined her life, but also somewhat resembling her taking the mantle of the original's Ahab character Dr. Loomis, Michael's original psychologist who swore to destroy The Shape upon his escape, knowing what he is capable of. Their fears are justified, even more now seeing Myers is killing in double digits, so when it came down to the climactic showdown between her and the boogeyman once again, it's nothing short but awesome with one iconic scene from the original film that involved Michael being recreated here with Laurie in his place that had me cheekily grinning from ear to ear.

Packed with a strong soundtrack, beautiful cinematography, stylish shots and enough throwback and homages to the rest of the franchise which surprisingly includes Rob Zombie's hyper-violent 2007 remake (and its sequel) and the cult fave in-name sequel Halloween III: Season Of The Witch (1982), I'm quite happy to say that Halloween (2018) warrants the viewing of any true slasher fan and deserves its praises. Even if you're yet to see the original (though I strongly recommend you do to get the feels of this sequel), Halloween (2018) is a solid enough story of bloody mayhem and gunpowder vengeance that heartily relies on a good balance of scares, laughs and thrills on a steady run to keep a genuine horror fan happy. With treats outnumbering awful tricks, this is one triumphant return of a classic horror figure and one of the best Halloween movies in this day and age that one shouldn't miss!

Bodycount:
A number of people in a transfer bus killed in crash
1 male dies from crash wounds
1 boy beaten, had his neck snapped
1 male found dead from crash wounds
1 male found with his neck snapped
1 male bludgeoned to death with a mallet
1 male seen with his jaw ripped open
1 male beaten to death against walls and bathroom doors
1 female strangled
1 female brained to death with a hammer
1 female knifed through the neck
1 female slashed and stabbed to death with a knife
1 male found pinned to the wall with a knife through the neck
1 male pulled into gate spikes, head impaled
1 male stabbed to death with a pen knife
1 male had his head stomped
1 male found with a throat cut and a pen knife stabbed into his head
1 male found decapitated, head carved
1 male strangled to death with a chain
Total: 18+

Sunday, October 21, 2018

A Bloody Mime's Halloween Act: Terrifier (2017)

Terrifier (2017)
Rating: ****
Starring: Jenna Kanell, Samantha Scaffidi, David Howard Thornton

I recall seeing Art The Clown all the way back in 2008 around my early college days, through director Damien Leone's early short called The 9th Circle. After that, I saw him again after stumbling upon Leone's Halloween-themed slasher short Terrifier (2011) on Youtube before getting my hands dirty with this clown once more and picked up the anthology horror flick All Hallow's Eve for 2013's October viewing, in which the movie collected these two shorts and packaged them with a third Leone segment, as well as a haunting wraparound with a gruesome conclusion.

Needless to say, I am fascinated by this creature. I love horror clowns, may it be a killer in face paint or a child-eating demon that possesses anyone that wears its skin, so long it is done right and Art is more than done right: he's almost a terrifyingly perfect blend of creepy and intense, horrifying and cheeky, and ambiguity and predictability, much like this feature length terror featuring the clown himself in a main villain role.

The story is simplistic enough. Two party girls, Dawn (Catherine Corcoran) and Tara (Jenna Kanell), were walking home from a Halloween get-together when they unfortunately caught the attention of Art, who just happens to be literally walking by. Things go seriously complicated when Dawn drunkenly flirts with Art and dragged Tara into the mess, much to her friend's annoyance and worry. It isn't long before Art starts to tail them, eventually ending up in a nearly empty building being pest-controlled where things finally go deadly as the clown shows off his homicidal nature and anyone unfortunate enough to be around is a target to his madness.

Basically, Terrifier is a star vehicle for a horror villain and the brand of "shock violence" he can dish out. Plot development is stripped down to the very bone of a slasher flick which is basically just stalk-and-kill, hence all other characters are simplified to nearly "future lamb chop" levels, prone to making bad decisions after bad decisions or simply having the worst of luck being in the wrong place at the wrong time. In fact, no any real motivation was even given for massacre apart that our killer clown can (and he definitely can) do it, so we are practically left watching one long excuse to have a random face-painted slasher showcase gory kills for us in a very unforgiving pace. But as far as excuses go, this film does a damn well job making that frighteningly and disturbingly work.

It's kinda rare nowadays that a slasher film with a plot this barren can make its kills so uneasy to watch but this movie managed. Much of what makes Terrifier an intense and terrifying viewing is the details it puts to each murder in which, albeit silly in set-up, the amount of gore and practical effects done are phenomenally carnal and near realistic, camera and editing hardly shying away from the onscreen brutality and gruesomeness. Art's attitude towards the violence he unleashes on innocent people further boosts the creep factor of his massacre, often tinted with a mocking and playful tone that somewhat forebodes a sense of hopelessness for his victims as it hints this isn't our killer's first rodeo.

On that note, I like how Art The Clown is an intriguing mix of the mute-type slasher villains and the wisecracking ones, relaying most of his twisted psychopathy and insatiable sadism through eerie mime acts possessing a lot of dynamics and emotions, mostly of grim joy and random insanity. A certain "drag" scene is a full testament to his character, spending an uncomfortable amount of time wherein Art plays around with a victim's hair and skin (in a manner you can only see to believe) while being partially nude himself, stalking another victim in the meantime. He is also willing to push the limits and play dirty just so he can deliver a murder one way or another, sometimes breaking away from standard slasher conventions most horror fans grew accustomed to. Needless to say, this is one clown you definitely wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley. (Or force his way into your home)

At a technical level, the movie tries to recapture the weathered look and feel of a lost 70s/80s slasher, although set in modern times. The tinted lighting greatly emphasized the dynamic violence and bloodiness onscreen and the cheesy dialogue and acting are a decent homage to those bygone days of mean-spirited grindhouse bodycounters where exploitation is far from uncommon. These attributes gave the movie a bit of a stylized timeless feel, which is an advantage for itself seeing its sheer focus is more on the kills and barely anything else.

The only problem with Terrifer is whether its simple slaughter-filled direction will work for everyone and, truth be told, it certainly won't. Those looking for more meat in a slasher story around the grounds of character and plot development will most likely find this film too simple and carnage-centered to be enjoyable. Little is revealed about our villain, may it be his origins or, again, why he kills, and I'm sure this will annoy some audience who're egging to know more about the madness they just saw.

Of course, if you just want a very basic horror movie about a clown on a very gory killing spree then Terrifier is a great movie to have around. A shocking piece of relentlessness made simply to shock and offend the strongest of stomachs and hardest of nerves, it's a movie bound to be a cult classic among horror clown enthusiasts, gorehounds and slasher fanatics. Perhaps, even, a good viewing among many others for a certain Fall holiday.

Bodycount:
1 female had her eyes gouged
1 male found decapitated, face mutilated
1 male repeatedly knifed on the face
1 female sliced in half with a hacksaw
1 female shot to death
1 male knifed on the head and had his throat sliced, head ripped off
1 female found scalped and flayed, dies from injuries
1 male had his head stomped
1 male strangled, killed offcamera
Total: 9

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Sour Honey: Candyman: Day of The Dead (1999)

Candyman: Day of The Dead (1999)
Rating: *1/2
Starring:  Tony Todd, Donna D'Errico, Jsu Garcia

Anybody else noticed how more the Candyman franchise go slasher on us, the shittier it gets? Damn.

So unless you're new to the horror game and hadn't heard of this 90s gem, Candyman is a 1992 cult classic psychological slasher movie based on a short story by Clive "Hellraiser" Barker, starring the booming voiced Tony Todd as the titular hook-handed villain who appears to kill whoever says his name five times in front of a mirror, as well as those who tries to disprove his existence. The movie's success and popularity within the horror community meant sequels and most of these (and by most I meant all two of them) are a retread of the original only with an emphasis on the villain's origins and bloodline, which revealed he was a painter back in the 1890s and has committed the sin of falling in love with a white woman and impregnating her, thus resulting to getting lynched and mutilated by a racist crowd as punishment.

This meant we now have white girls who are supposed to be Candyman's blood descendants that, for reasons that vary in each sequel, he has to kill. In all honesty, this franchise could have survived without dealing with any of this. Really.

In Candyman: Day of The Dead, Caroline McKeever, the now (mathematically impossible) adult daughter of Kelly Rowan’s character from the last film and the Candyman's great-great-granddaughter, owns an art gallery where she holds an exhibit featuring artwork painted by the hook-handed legend himself when he was still alive. She does this to change the perception of the Candyman tale, to focus more on the tragedy that befell on the man who will eventually become the writing on the wall,  the whisper in the classroom. A part of this exhibit, of course, includes invoking Candyman himself as an act but this (surprise, surprise) doesn't sit well with the legend himself.

Now back in the world of the living to do murder by bees and hook, Candyman's mission this time is to have Caroline to be his victim and he does this by not only killing those around her who doesn't believe in the legend and make it looks like she's responsible, but also kidnapping her boyfriend and threatens to kill him unless she offers herself to the Candyman's hook. Obviously, Caroline isn't going down like that, so she races against time to find a way to stop him before the bodycount goes higher.

Candyman: Day of the Dead barely holds itself together as a sequel to what was a deep yet creepy slasher about the nature of legends and racial politics. The characters are dumbed down to your standardized teen victims, the plot is needlessly complicated thanks to all the bloodline drama and the then-intriguing look into racial appropriation is messily shoehorned in, this time dabbling into Latino culture and their holiday Dios De Los Muertos (Day of The Dead), hence the title. Candyman here even fails to be all that terrifying, with his collection of dialogues making him sound so needy and overly dramatic with his beckoning for Caroline to be his victim, all of which doesn't match well with the fact that he's killing people with friggin' ease, this including every member of a random Candyman BDSM cult. (Apparently, that's a thing.)

Other mess to expect is a very uninspired final girl whose best moment involves talking to an egg, and worst moments involve within the fact we're supposed to be rooting for this bland excuse of a character. In fact, the movie's tone is damn stale and joyless, something that's kinda excusable if the plot has depth but the high bodycount, gory kills, lack of Philip Glass’ amazingly haunting soundtrack and retreaded cheap story say otherwise. Candyman: Day of The Dead is really nothing more than a sad end to what could have been a rich franchise and a solid reason to pretend that no other Candyman movies exist except for the original. What else is there to say, really? It's a laughably bad film, a laughably bad sequel and nothing more.

Bodycount:
1 female stung to death by bees
1 male ran through with a hook
1 female seen dead with a throat cut (flashback)
1 female eviscerated with a hook
1 male ran through the mouth with a hook
1 male ran through the gut with a hook (dream)
1 male hacked to death with a hook
5 males and 3 females slaughtered with a hook offcamera
1 male shot
Total: 16

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Modern Halloween Teen Murders: Hell Fest (2018)

Hell  Fest (2018)
Rating: ***
Starring: Bex Taylor-Klaus, Reign Edwards, Amy Forsyth

Sometimes, a slasher flick doesn't need a lot to be fun.

Have a killer run around some place, stalk and kill a few people creatively, fight a surviving girl (and/or guy), give us one last scare before the end credits roll, do it all right (or at least okayish) and you have yourself a back-to-basic dead teenager flick that may not look much, but it definitely could have been worse!

This is what Hell Fest is, a bodycounter that follows the staple niche of classic slashers like John Carpenter's Halloween (1978) and Tobe Hooper's The Funhouse (1980), following the exploits of a small group of teenagers having fun at the titular neon-bright horror themed Halloween event, unbeknownst to them that a masked hooded figure had taken interest on their little adventure and begins stalking and killing them one by one. There's no deeper play into this plot, just another group of kids with a slasher trailing behind them, but the modest and simplistic approach certainly has its charms.

Most of the characters has a genuine realism to them, may it be from our obvious final girl Natalie (Amy Forsyth), her best friend Brooke (Reign Edwards) or her budding lover Gavin (Roby Attal). We do still get loose cannons like Bex- Taylor Klaus's character Taylor who's an avid horror junkie with an energetic passion of a 12 year-old kid, or obvious meat throwaways like Matt Mercurio and Christian James' random love interest characters, but you can tell these guys and gals just want to have fun and their interaction with one another felt really close thanks to some decent writing, a well-timed pacing to allow some development and passable acting from our teen casts.

On the other end of the spectrum, our killer looks fairly okay. Their get-up is nothing too extravagant, just a Halloween mask and a hoodie, but their body language reeks of a real creeper, a predator toying their prey, and whenever they do kill, it can either go tame and simple or brutally bloody, two of which murders going full gore on us out of nowhere. By no means a memorable killer, but passable.

Another thing I came to love about Hell Fest is the theme park setting. While this isn't exactly new with the likes of the aforementioned The Funhouse already took a stab on the fun park backdrop, as well as other fairly fun titles like Dark Ride (2006), but this is one of the few rare occasions where in we see our casts enjoy the place, as well as see the place enjoy scaring the casts back in good fun. Honestly, this is one of the best looking set-pieces for a slasher flick, with top-notch creature designs for the park's actors and a lot of grand-looking rides and scare houses for our characters to try out and fall victim to, may the threat be real or not. It's this great set-up that gave the story a bit of an advantage as it made it hard not to picture a lot of the horrible things happening around as fun and games until shit hits the fan, so there's a good sense of tension once in a while.

Scares, sadly, isn't Hell Fest's strongest point as seeing it relies on classic slasher movie trappings, some of the frights (both intended and false) and a few supposed intense moments can get a bit predictable. We can tell the authorities aren't going to be any help within this movie, or that the gang will always find ways to split up, as these are the same cliches used on hundreds of other titles before and Hell Fest did little else in terms of variation on these tropes. The movie does throw in an unexpected turn or two, such as who bites the big one early or the subtle but random (or grim, depending how deep you read between the lines) reveal of the killer's identity, and it can be shocking, brutal and unnerving when it needs to be, so the lack of any more twists on the slasher skeleton could have been remedied more.

Still, for a paint-by-number slasher, it's hardly boring even when you expect some of the plot turns. With a likable set of characters, some great stalking and murder scenes, and a subtle understanding on the basic flow of a good slasher story, Hell Fest is a watchable flaw that's entertaining in its simplicity if it hits you in the right mood and mindset. No means a new classic, but a good timewaster nonetheless.

Bodycount:
1 female knifed on the gut
1 female knifed on the chest
1 male had his head smashed with a mallet
1 male gets a prop syringe shoved into his eye
1 female knifed on the gut
1 male knifed to death
Total: 6

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Creep Girls Creeping On Suspected Creep: Creeper (2012)

Creeper (2012)
Rating: *
Starring: Darryl Baldwin, Rohnja Morrow, Monica Chambers

Everybody knows at this point in time that the internet is full of weirdos.

From geeks to creeps, deviants of varying degree find cyberspace their haven to chance an escape reality so they can express whatever they want, whenever they want to, with little to no consequences unless things go too far and action had to be taken against them. With this piece of reality in mind, it comes to no surprise that horror flicks tend to cash in to this real life horror show, putting their own twist on cyberbullying, deep web horrors and social media scares. Among these horror titles, Creeper tries to do what Unfriended (2014) did for cyberbullying, only with online chat websites and failing not only miserably, but worryingly.

So fancy this; a small group of loud and obnoxious friends gets tired online creepers hitting up on them so they decide to turn the tables and start stalking the web for potential creeps to harass. Enter Jerry Tobin, a mute boring-looking man who wanted to befriend them over chat which the girls agree, seeing him as the first potential victim of their own brand of revenge-cum-online social justice.

After forcing him to do countless humiliating tasks from sending them dick pics and piercing his nipples to whipping himself and coaxing him to eat feces, the girls soon grew tired of the crap they're making him do and just decided to outright kill him after luring him out in the open field, beating him senseless and leaving him for dead after hanging him. And adding insult to his supposed death, the girls post the clips of his acts online in a compilation video titled “Revenge on a Creeper”.

The problem with all of this is that Jerry wasn't all up there to begin with and his body disappears no soon after the girls finished posting their handiwork all over cyberspace. So after a year of not hearing anything from Mr. Tobin, the girls suddenly find themselves kidnapped, lost and naked (well, naked for the first part) in the secluded woods while Jerry, armed and rigged the forest to record and livestream, hunts them down to torture and murder.

Now, see, I'm sure most of you will agree that we watch slashers for the cool-looking killers and the creative deaths, and backstories behind the murders can elevate a title from this horror sub-genre from random simple senseless killings to something with a bit more backbone to follow through. Creeper does have an interesting set-up for its murderer in a matter that it questions whether a wrong can justify another wrong. The girls' plan on humiliating a suspected internet creeper can be seen as noble for some, but we're not even sure if Jerry was even looking to chase tail to begin with, henceforth the horrid acts they forced upon their target ends up looking more like extreme bullying than rightful payback. This and the obvious fact that they're all portrayed to be bitchy as fuck, of course, made the girls "reasonable" murder victims for our slasher to cut open and disembowel, but it's kinda hard to root for him either since he's just so bland.

With no dialogue to utter apart from grunts, our killer relies a lot on body language and it's horribly obvious that actor Darryl Baldwin, who plays our silent hulk, needed more experience on this field, or at least a better story to make up for his almost stale performance. Further troubles for us viewers include awfully lame kills (CG blood. Why, CG blood?), torture sequences that are terrible in all the wrong ways (some things aren't meant to take so long and repetitive), and a sudden shift to action thriller stalk-and-shoot as Jerry suddenly finds himself surrounded by the most incompetent SWAT team I've ever seen (These guys pack a grenade launcher and yet none of them even landed a blow on a guy named "Jerry"), an entire scene out of nowhere that felt misplaced with its campiness, ruining whatever serious issue this film was tackling to begin with. There's no sense of redemption for the girls neither as not only do they continue to act like they're still on the right but whenever they're given a chance to fight back, these chances are ruined by how boring these fight scenes are.

So it's bad enough we can't root for any of the girls, nor can we completely side with our slasher, but the rest of the movie is just one big pile of shit that's buried and then piled up by yet another pile of shit. A shit upon shit as it slumps on being a hardcore stab on online predators as well as a revenge-driven backwoods slasher flick. It's painful to sit through for just how trying it is, what more if it sit among your dusty pile of discarded horror movies too lame to be a part of your collection? My solution? Just ignore this heap of donkey bile. You are all better off not knowing this kind of Creeper existed...

Bodycount:
1 female mentioned dead from heart failure
2 females blown apart by a rigged dynamite
1 male gets a dead branch shoved down his throat
1 female shot on the head
2 males blown apart by grenades
1 male shot on the neck with an arrow
1 male hacked on the head with an axe
1 male shot on the head
1 male shot on the face with a shotgun
2 males shot through the head with an arrow
1 male blown up with a grenade launcher
1 male blown up with a grenade launcher
1 male blown up with a grenade launcher
1 female tied between a tree and a truck, torn apart
1 female hanged
Total: 18

The Best Day Ever (For Slaughtering) : 4/20 Massacre (2018)

4/20 Massacre (2018)
Rating: ***1/2
Starring: Jamie Bernadette, Vanessa Rose Parker, Stacey Danger

When I first read about 4/20 Massacre claiming itself as the first "stoner slasher", I first thought No, it ain't. Have these guys seen The Tripper (2006)? In case they haven't, they should! It's quite good!  and then I pictured another stoner comedy clashing with your typical dead teenager flick. Thankfully, the latter wasn't much of a case for 4/20 Massacre and I'm actually quite alright with that.

The film opens with a pair of backpacking bros out in the woods and stumbling upon on a pot farm. As most 20-somethings in a horror flick, the boys are rightfully excited about the find and start hauling up the hash stash when suddenly, a clawed figure in a ghillie suit comes up right behind one of them and slashes his throat. High from tasting the weed and shocked from what he just saw, the surviving backpacker makes a run for it, unknowingly starting a long day of trouble and bloodshed for just about anyone in the same woods.

In come our protagonists, a lovable gang of five girls on a camping trip over 4/20 weekend to celebrate a friend’s birthday. Along the trail, they encounter a beer-guzzling park ranger who warns them not to go off into the hills due to hostile weed farmers (a clue?), disrupt a hunter from killing a buck by offering him some weed, and run into our surviving backpacker who handed our girls the stash of marijuana he stole in hopes of escaping his pursuer.

It comes to no surprise that our backwoods stalker eventually arrives to kill off our casts, slaying the throwaway randoms first before making their way to our girls. Along the blood, guts and huffed cannabis, we get funny conspiracy talks about the true meaning of "4/20" from the resident stoner girl, random discussions about philosophy and an adorable (and wonderfully well-acted) coming-out scene as one of the gals reveals her true feelings over a friend she's been crushing on for a long time. Suffice to say, 4/20 Massacre did a whole lot of right and more as a slasher flick.

As far as scripting and acting goes, 4/20 Massacre did pretty well establishing its main female casts, giving each of them a pretty distinct and likable personality even if the direction gave about half of these girls more grounded development than the rest. Though some of their overall shenanigans were expected from this type of movie such as smoking recreational drugs and "experimental sex" (all of which, of course, soon leads to their doom), there's a slight modesty, sweetness and depth to these moments that makes them rarely boring, often funny and fairly enjoyable to watch, henceforth making their demises all more cathartic.

And speaking of demises, the kills are wondrously savage, messy and brutal despite the odd placement of CG blood splatter, seeing the practical gore effects used here have enough grue to satisfy one's bloodlust for slasher gore. The pacing between these murders and the character scenes is well timed to build around one another, cleverly starting us off by snuffing out the random encounters before getting into the real meat of the massacre.

The killer, despite their intimidating silence and brutality, is an odd one visually speaking, looking an awful lot like a cryptid consisting of dreadlocks for hair, sharpened dead branches for claws and an affinity for weed. (Yes, the killer occasionally goes "huff, huff", too! Kinda kills the seriousness of the murders at times, but the damage isn't too damning, honestly) Heck, there's even a scene of the killer simply running through an opening on the woods, somewhat resembling the famous Patterson–Gimlin film on orange daylight tint. It's a strange choice of get-up for our murderer, but one that has its moments and it does stand out in a good way. The only thing I truly have mixed feelings about our killer is that their motive behind the murders comes across as cliched seeing we already have twists like that from earlier slasher movies, but I can't dismiss it completely considering how it still fits with the movie's tone and direction.

Well shot, edited and beautifully composed as well, 4/20 Massacre is a lively and engaging low-budget modern indie that I, again, am glad didn't choose to spoof down its own story with overblown stoner jokes and nods to cannabis culture. Instead finding a clever way to incorporate its talk of weed and depiction of the pot-smokers' holiday around a workable slasher plot, it's all the sensibilities of a themed indie backwoods hack-a-thon, with a little slice of depth and a good amount of tension once the killing gets going. Watchable and exciting, 4/20 Massacre is good enough for me!

Bodycount:
1 male had his throat cut
1 male disemboweled with a hunting knife
1 female gets a bong shoved through her mouth
1 female stabbed in the eye with a broken bottle
1 female stabbed to death with a hunting knife
1 female decapitated with a hunting knife
1 male stabbed to death with sharpened branches
1 male stabbed on the neck with a hunting knife
1 male shot to death with a crossbow
Total: 9

So, It's Finally October Again...

You know what that means?

Somebody should make that Mr. Chuckle Teeth doll a real thing! Like, mass produced and stuff. Y'know, for 
Shuddering Letter: H  Shuddering Letter: AShuddering Letter: K  Shuddering Letter: K Shuddering Letter: O Shuddering Letter: W Shuddering Letter: E Shuddering Letter: E Shuddering Letter: N?

I can't wait~