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

Friday, November 24, 2017

Preying For A Good Home Invasion: The Strangers: Prey At Night Trailer Thoughts


So, it took ten years for The Strangers to come up and finish a sequel. Well, basing my experience with other sequels and meta-sequels that took their sweet time following up a movie (Psycho II, The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014), Phantasm V: Oblivion and Jeepers Creepers 3) I'm both excited and rightfully nervous, if not terrified of the notion of it flopping. (The latter thanks to the latter two movies mentioned. Worst. Sequels. Ever.)

So far, I can tell that The Strangers: Prey At Night may do more slasher-lite stalking and killing. I could be wrong, of course, since the trailer for the first The Strangers (2008) did made itself look like one, but unlike that film, this entry seems to have more characters in play so here's hoping to a considerable bodycount and more hack'n slashing action.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Filipino Maniac: Basag Ang Pula (1984)

Basag ang Pula (Philippines, 1984)
Rating: ***1/2
Starring:  Ace Vergel, Snooky Serna, Liza Lorena

(Before I start, I would like to give a big shout out to Jenny Lo for helping me finally see a copy of this surpringly hard-to-find film! It's people like her why I'm proud to be one with the horror community!)

It's quite a shame my home country, the Philippines, never have that much of a demand for gory slasher flicks because rare cheesy gems like Basag Ang Pula shows that, if we really put a lot of effort to it, we could do a fun and messy bodycounter.

Basag starts with a treat by taking a varying stab on a well-known Filipino urban legend; a father drives to a party to pick up his teenage daughter only for their car to run out of gas while enroute back home. The father decided to get out to find fuel, leaving his daughter inside the car to have someone guard it. This eventually proves to be a terrible idea when a crazed man suddenly attacks the car, frightening the girl into hysterics. The cherry on top? The man slowly reveals that he just freshly decapitated her father and he has the keys...

Another offscreen death and an opening credit later, the crime scene is now swarmed by cops, reporters and curious cats alike, and though they are baffled by the lack of motive for the killings, they are certain this is the work of the same maniac who apparently have been murdering folks around the city recently.

The following morning comes with us watching our killer, Fernando, living his day catching and torturing rats while experiencing horrid childhood flashbacks. Later that very night, he ventures off to do some more human hunting, this time cock-blocking a horny pair of teenagers before fatally stabbing the boy and chasing the girl into the streets when she escapes. The screaming and struggles draw the attention of patrolling officials, however, prompting Fernando to back off and hide inside a school bus where he murders the driver after the man threatens to tell on the cops.

In a stroke of luck, the bus turns out to be a hired transport for a large group of high school girls attending a retreat and Fernando seizes the opportunity to pretend as the murdered driver's nephew to drive all the way to another city, escaping possible capture. Of course, it wasn't long before he can't hold back his murderous impulses once he and the class reach the retreat and the need to start another killing spree catches up to him soon.

While not necessarily a great movie per se, Basag ang Pula does work as a cheesy exploitation flick, somewhat bringing an amount of grit and teeth to an otherwise cheddar-tainted story of an opportunistic murderer slaying his way through a class full of party and/or sex-hungry teenagers. (And teachers) It could have been nothing but hokey hamminess comparable to some late 80s American school girl-in-peril slashers such as School Girl Screamers (1986), Blood Sisters (1987) and The Last Slumber Party (1988), with some scenes actually looking like it was going for that kind of mess (An Ouija board scene between the girls and their recently murdered classmate, anyone? How about a bonfire dance-off between the class goof and the local retard?), but Basag found a way to present itself as this dirty and grim looking creature for over most of the movie's entire run, mainly thanks to our villain's unsettling character and the sheer relentlessness of his attacks, elements played the straightest and grounded Basag in place as a genuine horror movie.

Though our villain is nothing anywhere as remarkable and noteworthy as many masked slashers reigning the box offices of their time, his seemingly unprovoked killing streak and often robotic personality (courtesy of actor, Ace Vergel) gave him an unpredictable edge, resulting to a rather sizable killcount consisting of often brutal dispatches without being that gory or inventive. (our killer only wielded two murder weapons: a hunting knife and, later, an automatic rifle) Two notable occasions Basag showed some worth for shock value were the beheading reveal at its opening scene and one part in the middle of the movie where a mentally handicapped man found himself in the wrong place, at the wrong time and at the bad end of the blade.

If there's anything that doesn't really help our antagonist stand above other slashers villains, it would be the climactic reveal of how exactly Fernando became this unhinged wherein his reasons and accompanying flashbacks reveal a tragic romance gone fatal, a cliche nearly as overused as the abusive parental figure when it comes to past traumas. This did lead to a minor mystery whether one girl in the retreat may or may not be Fernando's tragic lover who mysteriously disappeared from his life, but the lack of focus on this supposed sub-plot made it pretty weak and corny, succeeding only to give our killer a reason to hold back on committing a complete stab-a-thon.

Oddly, too, is that Basag's also one of the few slasher titles that spent a good amount on writing and building up a possible final girl among its characters, only for her to be tossed aside in the last act and have the movie stretch 20 minutes more to switch from "horror" to "action thriller", with Fernando arming himself with a semi-automatic and shooting down armed cops on pursuit. It's certainly a curveball plot turn I never saw coming from this film (Nor is it really new for me. Gotta blame Severance (2003) and The Majorettes (1987) for that one), but I overly enjoy its sheer silliness and macho-inducing reek, a kind of nostalgic grandeur of over-the-top entertainment that only vintage Filipino exploitation flicks can induce.

A rough little gem of a rare slasher, Basag Ang Pula was a challenge to find but I can honestly say that the hunt was well worth it. Cheesy and grim in the right balance, this is one foreign entry that deserves a quick look for all slasher completists and horror purists.

Bodycount:
1 male head seen
1 female murdered offscreen
1 male stabbed with a knife
1 male had his chest dragged open with a knife
1 female had her throat slashed with a knife
1 female killed, blood spill seen
1 female stabbed with a knife
1 male stabbed in the gut with a knife
1 female stabbed in the head with a knife
1 male knifed in the nape
1 female stabbed on the gut with a knife
1 female mentioned killed
1 male stabbed to death with a knife
1 male stabbed to death with a knife
1 male shot dead with an automatic rifle
1 male shot on the head
1 male shot dead with an automatic rifle
Total: 17

Monday, November 20, 2017

Short Shear Terror: Chainsaw (2015)

Chainsaw (2015)
Rating: ***1/2
Starring:  James Frey, Kirby Bliss Blanton, Logan Paul

Eight and a half minutes long. Produced by Eli Roth of the Hostel franchise. Yep. This is gonna be a fun one.

At a seaside funfair, a man with a chainsaw nonchalantly walks to the backroom of a haunted house attraction, apparently to work as a hired spook. Of course, with the man's quite demeanor (and this being a short horror flick), we all can tell something's not right and dismemberment soon happens left and right.

Originally made as a sort of sneak peek for a possible feature film, Chainsaw has quite a simple premise that harks back to classic horror stories of dark rides with deadly little secrets. It's pretty straightforward to what it wanted to do and we can easily tell this with the killer's quick succession of murdering five victims in such a short running time. Some may find this predictable and I will not argue with that fact, but this little devil packed enough blood and guts to satisfy bloodthirsty gorehounds and I like the fact that they went on with it in gruesome flair and a bit of dark humor.

It's a quick slice of gory horror pie so there's also very little to argue about in terms of writing and characterization. The victims are victims, the unknowing bystanders are just unknowing bystanders, and our nameless killer is just a nameless killer, though we are shown that he likes to eat raw meat from his victims and that this little thrill kill might not be his last. Special effects are undoubtedly the short's key player as juicy red corn syrup and chunky latex parts are everywhere once the climactic slaughtering begins and even when it ends, having an artsy touch to them with nasty slow-mo close-ups that kinda reminds me of a dismemberment scene from the cheesy cult classic slasher Pieces (1982).

As of writing this, it's been two years since Chainsaw was posted at Crypt TV, a website Eli Roth co-founded. Whether the attempt to make something out of this short failed or it's taking its sweet sweet time fermenting into a genuine feature flick, I will say that this tiny terror ticked every box in making a good fun slasher. If you need quick fix of blood and body parts, then try giving this Chainsaw a gander and see the small buzz it made for itself.

Bodycount:
1 male decapitated with a chainsaw
1 male bisected on the shoulder with a chainsaw
1 female sliced in half with a chainsaw
1 female seen killed with a chainsaw
1 male seen dismembered
Total: 5

Monday, October 30, 2017

Militant Bodycounter: The Guest (2014)

The Guest (2014)
Rating: ****
Starring: Dan Stevens, Sheila Kelley, Maika Monroe

One would remember Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett as the filmmaking duo responsible for the stylish and devilishly fun home invasion/slasher melting pot You're Next (2011), as well as the slow burning yet hypnotizing serial killer thriller A Horrible Way to Die (2009) and a couple of better entries for the first two V/H/S/ anthology horror movies. Now, we'll look into their 2014 hit The Guest, which is far from the standard horror flick you would expect in a slasher blog like this, but it has enough intrigue, kill count and even a few shoutouts to horror flicks to earn a warm welcome here in StickyRed.

Still mourning over the loss of their son Caleb who died in action back at Afghanistan, the Petersons get an unexpected visitor named David one early morning, claiming to be Caleb's marine buddy. He is there to look after them because their late son "asked him to", a promise our titular guest is determined to make good of and a proposition the Petersons were quick to accept.

Well, most of the Petersons: a bit suspicious of this is Anna, the only daughter of the family and now the remaining eldest. She believes there's more to David's near-perfection as a house guest than what he is showing and her suspicions are later proven pin-point, unfortunately, as David has a secret worth killing over and anybody (and I mean anybody) in the way is fair game once he believes he's compromised.

Being frank, The Guest's core plot isn't entirely new if you look back at movies like The Stepfather (1987) and its sequels (and underrated remake), as well as Mikey (1992), Orphan (2009) and many other horror flicks involving suspicious and/or murderous adoptive/adopting family members. It's quite easy to tell that something is up with David's boy-next-door persona and we are eventually made aware of this once he starts talking about acquiring guns in one scene and nonchalantly killing off the suppliers in another. Basically, we are more or less watching a ticking time bomb of a narrative that's scheduled to go off once the climactic curveball is upon us, only the wait is just as fun as the last act it is building to.

What The Guest does that not a lot of its ilk seems to grasp perfectly (or attempted at all) is create a worthwhile diversion to an otherwise predictable scenario. By this I meant that most of the time, movies like The Stepfather or Orphan gave more focus on uncovering the dark secrets of the painfully obvious offending party, molding said offending party into a much more obvious threat that needs to be stopped. In The Guest, however, even after we are made aware of David's potential murder-happy persona, we are still shown a more acceptable side of him as a man looking out for a family and doing a good job at it.

For a good mulch of the time, we see David help Laura, the mother, with the chores, taught the family's youngest Luke how to stand up against his bullies (beating a good number of them up in the process), and may have done something to have Spencer, the father, suddenly climb the corpotate ladder at his job, all of these with an uncomfortably eerie yet somewhat genuine smile and soft spoken persona only Downtown Abbey's Dan Stevens can muster with good looks and charm. It's these awesome moments that made the David character quite a likable chap, thus adding tension and mystery to the plot as we are never solidly sure what he is capable of, what he really is and/or his actual purpose being there until the hour mark. By then, The Guest turns the table against us and kinda recalls its horror elements, bringing forth an odd mix of slasher flick killing spree and action movie shoot'em up.

This transition is far from perfect as we were never given a clear explanation as to why David suddenly goes 360 from his protective big brother mode and go Terminator on everybody's arses. Yes, they did explain he is programmed by something shady and there was supposed to be a scene that go into this in more details, but Wingard and Barrett decided to cut it out to make David more mysterious. So what exactly this programming does or what it is for werenever brought up and this is understandably upsetting for some as it made the David character lazily transformed from a potential anti-hero to something of a slasher villain packing heat (And a box cutter), throwing away all of the development made just for a more explosive and exploitative final act.

Personally, the sudden transformation of both David and the subtle tone of the movie would have been upsetting for me, but seeing the layout of the story was already familiar to me genre-wise, the impact is forseen and though I do wished they planned this twist a bit better, the resulting product is still entertainingly fun and impressive.

What I personally love about The Guest, apart from Steven's portrayal as a first-likable-then-homicidal human weapon, is that it has a grooving retro feel to it from its editing to its soundtrack despite having a modernized setting, giving the entire movie a timeless feel. There's offerings for both thriller and horror enthusiasts in the later carnage as we are given a chance to see David in gunheld action, as well as him delivering some decent kills in both combustive and slicing manner, two in particular (my favorites) involve an unsettling scene where live grenades were tossed at a diner full of innocent bystanders and another at a highschool horror maze in which the film went full slasher movie on us.

Now, if there is anything that I could point as flaws that really bugged me, it'll be the Peterson parent's quick approval of having David around just because he showed little proofs that could have meant anything else. (I mean, did David really got those dog tags from Caleb the way he explained it?) It's a typical horror cliche of "useless/clueless adults" which mostly sets grown ups as deserving meat for the slaughter for being blind of the danger they are getting into and though I get that Mrs. Peterson might be this easily persuaded as she is still greiving over the loss of her boy, I find it too easy for Papa Peterson to be just as easily welcoming after one scene of skepticism. I guess it is a good thing that most of the focus of (kinder) David interactions were on Laura and her son Luke as they were the easiest to relate to and work the best with the kind of plotting The Guest was going for.

A fun genre film that molds the thrilling and the horrifying in one antihero-centered package, I can honestly say that The Guest is a winner in my book, whether its last act works for a lot of folks or not. If you love your good thrillers with a side of horror and character, then this one's a guaranteed definite keeper!

Bodycount:
1 male shot on the head
1 male shot
1 male shot
1 male shot on the head
1 male shot dead with an automatic rifle
1 male shot on the face with an automatic rifle
1 male shot dead with an automatic rifle
1 female knifed on the chest
1 male shot dead
1 male mangled in car collision, shot
1 victim implied shot, blood splatter seen
1 female shot
A number of people presumably killed in grenade explosion
1 male had this throat sliced with a box cutter
1 male had his wrist sliced open with a box cutter, bled to death
1 male implied murdered, uniform seen
Total: 15+

Monday, October 23, 2017

New Blogger Blog is a Webcomic...

So yeah, I decided to expand my next project here in Blogger for more exposure. It'll be a gag webcomic series about a demoness named Cass and her often unusual adventures living in the mortal world.

Well, try living in the mortal world...

Hope you guys will give this one a try!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Dream Girls Can Be A Nightmare: The Babysitter (2017)

The Babysitter (2017)
Rating: ****
Starring: Judah Lewis, Samara Weaving, Robbie Amell

By this time, we all know babysitting's a doomed profession should you ever find yourself living in a horror film: if you're not being stalked by a maniac in a William Shatner mask, you're probably being taunted by a creepy voice on the other end of a phone call, or finding out that the kid you are looking after is really the son of the devil. Or not really a kid at all! Yep, babysitters sure get the bad end of the tooth-and-nail trappings as a horror cliche quite a lot, don't they? But what if we turn things around a bit? What if the babysitter is the bad end?

Twelve-year old Cole (Judah Lewis) is, in his and everybody else's word, a pussy. He is afraid of needles, spiders, driving a car on his own and a very dorky bully who I'm sure wouldn't last 30 seconds in a real fight. As timid as he is, Cole is still lucky as he does have a few peeps looking out for him, mainly his adorkable parents, his best (girl) friend Melanie, and Bee (Samara Weaving), his family's got-to babysitter.

Now, let's discuss Bee; of all the babysitters you'd wish be real, she is definitely one of them! Sexy, pretty, witty, blonde, hardass and badass, yet just as big of a scifi nerd as Cole is, Bee's undoubtedly too cool to hang around with a little dork like Cole but by the luck of the heavens, here she is, again happily looking after him while his parents go out for the night. (probably to have sex)

As the two have the time of their lives discussing their dream "galactic team-up", baking pizzas, watching old Westerns and talking about that cute neighbor girl who Cole may have a bit of crush on, it wasn't long before Bee temps our boy his first beer and, suspecting his babysitter's trying to get him drunk and drowzy to have her own private time, Cole feigns being sleepy so he can sneak a peek at what happens whenever he clocks out. Oh, how he wished he hadn't done that.

True enough, Bee invited some friends over for a PG-rated game of Spin the Bottle, mainly consisting of bitchy cheerleader Allison (Bella Thorne), uber jock Max (Robbie Amell), intense goth Sonya (Hana Mae Lee), the quip-ready John (Andrew Bachelor) and, an apparent new addition to the crew, dorkus magnus Samuel (Doug Haley). What should have been a hot kiss-a-thon between these slasher victim stereotypes, however, Cole instead saw them murder Samuel for a blood ritual and it seems they'll be needing one more thing to complete it: the blood of an innocent. AKA Cole's.

From there, The Babysitter transforms from a dorky coming-of-age story for the millennial youth nerd to something I like to call a "reverse slasher", wherein Bee's group of atypical (and mostly stupid) maniacs hunts down Cole after he is made aware of their secret blood pact with the underworld and it is up to the kid to stop them with any means necessary, apparently including blowing one up with a fat firecracker. It's a twist on the old bodycount flick that, though isn't new (see Hunter's Blood (1987), Psympatico (2014) and, at some extent, You're Next (2011)), still delivers all the gooey red fun and thrilling chases a by-the-book slasher could, with a bonus genuine Edgar Wright/John Hughes-inspired comedy that a bit of a rarity nowadays.

A fun thing about The Babysitter is that, early on, it has the makings of a loud, brash and obnoxious teen horror flick that could have tried too hard that it'll flop. Infested with pop songs and psuedo-referential preteen dialogue, dragging along some crazy visuals and camera effects for the sake of being hip and fun, one would have assume it would go downhill after 10 to 30 minutes but, quite surprisingly, not only did this film found a way to maintain the sarcastic self-referencing nature of the plot and keep it enjoyable thanks to its strangely upbeat direction, skillful writing and wonderful talents involved, but it also found a way to have a bit of a heart with it and slows down whenever it is needed to.

The comedy and exploitation elements are fun and all (Damn, that girl-on-girl kiss! Damn that Andrew Bachelor is friggin hilarious! Damn, why is Max shirtless for the rest of the film?!), and one can always find something exciting from a good stalk-and-stab especially if you're as big of a fan of slasher flicks as I am and have a good appreciation for (mostly) practical effects (keep an "eye" on a fire poker kill. It's "mind" bogglingly brutal!), but what made The Babysitter much more memorable is the chemistry between Cole and Bee. It's difficult to explain, but the way they're both written shows a genuine friendship between the two characters and that they really do care with one another even if shit hits the fan. It's this kind of characterization that kept me glued until the end of the film, just rooting to see how much both Cole and Bee grew up in this situation, and I have no one else to thanks but Weaving and Lewis' performances as their respective roles. These two are gonna go places!

Marvelous as The Babysitter is as a wittily-scribed bloody teen horror comedy, it is not without its tiny flaws which mostly consists on how too obscure and strange the villains can get (stop in the middle of murdering your victim just to teach them how to stand up against a bully? As funny as that is, I'm still a bit confused what the point of that was.) and a few moments that are too outrageous even for a movie involving Satanic blood rituals. (car crash without a seat belt not equals dead driver?) They're little nitpicks, easily looked over for the sake of being fun and funny while actually getting results so it's still all good!

It's for the best to experience The Babysitter on its freshest, which means it's time to get off your butt (or don't since it is available on Netflix as of writing this) and see one of this year's best horror comedy! A perfect midnight movie for your warm popcorn and chugs of soda!

Bodycount:
1 male stabbed on the head with daggers
1 male had his throat cut with a dagger
1 male gets a fire poker thrown through his head, torn open
1 male falls and impaled neck-first through a trophy
1 female immolated by a firework (twice)
1 male had his neck tangled on a rope, hanged
1 female had her head shot off with a shotgun
1 male attacked with a knife, presumably killed
Total: 8