Sunday, July 31, 2011

Your mechanical deathbed: Terminal Choice (1985)

Terminal Choice (AKA Death Bed/Critical List) (Canada, 1985)
Rating: ***1/2
Starring: Joe Spano, Diane Venora and David McCallum

Set in the future where a high tech clinic is run by terminal computers that control every operation going on, it seems that due to the fact that the staff has barely anything to do, they pass their time by breaking a few ethical rules including betting on which of their wards will bite the big one first. When one patient, suffering from a bladder infection, dies from severe hemorrhaging due to an unknown substance placed in her medication, some action were to be expected to get into the bottom of this.
If you think that's bad, wait til you watch this scene...
In comes Dr. Frank Holt, who never trusted a single computer and whose bitterness towards the idea have his peers batting him with a sarcastic eyes, perhaps enough to make sure he is to blame for the bizarre accidents that begins to plague the automated hospital. Putting Holt in pressure, he has no other choice but to go on an all-out investigation that unravels a series of betrayal, murder and unauthorized medical experiments.

Some might argue that this film is not a slasher film and I'm not going to disagree much because I can understand why; Terminal Choice has no human killer and the murders were done through sabotaged machines rather than hand-held weapons. And yet, it does contain some slasher overtones and a workable mystery that can keep seasoned fans glued; who is doing this and why are the big questions presented before us and it's cleverly executed to keep you engaged as the more conspiracy begins to unfold, more victims start dying from "accidents".
This movie reminds me how much I'm afraid of heart attacks...
The murders in this film, while not very "slasher-like", still passes my expectations by tapping into the fear of putting your life to the trust of total strangers, this time not of man, but of machines. The idea of your weakened state taken into the advantage of the killer may have been done already in similar flicks like Hospital Massacre or Visiting Hours but in here, it's more chilling as it is done by automated machines. When the kills happen, they don't keep it simple: patients will try to squirm to get away, blood soaks blouses, people cringe as it gets to them that they're dying, there's great tension built for each of these deaths, in turn, which eventually goes on a full blow by the time our dear doctor friend got himself injured and left at the mercy of the madman and their machines.

It's a shame that this movie is often overlooked because for a thriller, it delivers what most slashers fail to do and that is creating clever variations from the usual bodycounting while keeping the tone in check and the murder-mystery fairly scary. The acting is solid and though the pacing might get a little slow by the middle of its run, it pays off quite fairly at the last act.
um...wouldn't it be easier if you unplug it all instead
Terminal Choice is one movie that's aware of what it is and tries to give what the fans want: a bloody slasher film mixed with a crime-thriller style mystery. Find it and see it, you wont be disappointed.

1 female continuous hemorrhaging due to drug, bled to death
1 female suffocates on a malfunctioning ventilator
1 animal seen butchered
1 male found killed (method unknown)
1 male electrocuted by defibrillator
1 male had drug injected to neck, bled to death by hemorrhaging
1 male shot to death with handgun

Funeral Parlor gone deadly : Funeral Home (1981)

Funeral Home (AKA "Cries In The Night") (Canada, 1981)
Starring: Kay Hawtrey, Lesleh Donaldson and Barry Morse

When Heather was asked to help her grandmother turn her missing grandfather's funeral home into a bed-and-breakfast motel one Summer, she never expected to know about her grandpa's questionable reputation as "Chalmers The Embalmer", a crazy old coot and an adulterous lover. And as much as she doesn't want to believe any of this, those angry voices coming from the cellar and the fact that many of their guests and/or by-passers start disappearing tell her otherwise. Could Chalmers the Embalmer finally living up to his nickname and killing off people? Or is there something else sinister afoot?

Not much I can say for this little number apart that it is cheesier than a fondue-drenched cheddar sandwich and too slow for its own good, all the while sporting a workable mystery. 

Unlike many slashers being released in its era, Funeral Home attempts to mix a good whodunit with the hammy delight of odd characters, a somewhat strange combination that didn't work out too well for me. The likes of a bumbling law enforcers, a mentally-challenged gardeners, religiously-unhinged parental figures, and the obviously virginal good girl next door did give the film's story-driven mystery enough red herrings to distract us with, they do, however, come in too distracting for me to the point that I hardly cared who is killing these people. Add the fact that we spend a good portion of the first hour looking into these character's unusual personalities with barely anything of interest happening, the slow burn direction is relatively confusing and frustrating.

Things did finally pick up at the last third when the murderer starts to snuff off anyone suspicious; unfortunately, much of my interest was gone at that point and the relatively tame murders didn't help reignite my attention. The editing done to these scenes were creepy at most, putting some fairly good use of shadows and creepy noises to make the suspense work, but in the end, these scenes are no more than a lukewarm reward for our patience when the big reveal turned out to be fairly obvious, if not overly cliched.

It's sad really, but if they at least made more effort on pacing their story, or did a better job at characterization, Funeral Home would have been better. Yet I do recommend fans of atmospheric slashers would try to check this title if they can find it. I'm sure five out of ten from them would like it. Me? I prefer my moody thrillers with more intelligent themes or a brighter splash of red, thank you.

1 male and 1 female pushed off a cliff in their car and drowns in a lake
1 male bludgeoned to death with shovel
1 male repeatedly stabbed with embalming needle
1 elderly male corpse found
1 female mentioned missing.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Twin Giants a Gigglin' : Just Before Dawn (1981)

Just Before Dawn (1981)
Rating: ***1/2
Starring: George Kennedy, Mike Kellin and Chris Lemmon

The scene starts with two hunters finding themselves an abandoned church in the woods to stumble into, where they're suddenly terrorized by an unseen hulk. One hunter got away, the other got something in between his legs that's long, hard...and razor sharp.

We then cut to a van full of campers on a hiking trip, being warned by not only the local sheriff that the woods aren't safe, but also the surviving hunter who is now babbling about demons prowling the ground. As any teenagers would in these films, they ignored all these doom-sayings and continue to drive deeper into the mountains, eventually hiking on foot when the trail becomes narrow. Camps are then set and the usual teen business begins (mainly loud music and a lot of making out), though they do run afoul with a family of hillbillies living nearby who are less than welcoming towards city-folks and proves that point by blowing up their some of their gear with a shotgun.

Defiantly, this didn't scare the teens away, so they still went on to stay in their camps, unaware that that our demons -a pair of hillbilly's mongoloids- finally decided to make their move and starts killing off anyone they can get their sausage fingers on. As the group thins down to the last two, a battle for survival starts...

Just Before Dawn (1981) is indeed an odd yet underrated gem, setting us up with expectations of a gory hacking spree courtesy of this film's admittedly messed-up opening murder, only for the plot to slow down and build itself more around its characters and the brooding tension. There are more peeps talking and freaks plainly stalking here, in turn, all of which done through a steady pacing that continues even once the film reaches it climax. Looking past this flawed momentum, though, the film do manages to create an effectively suspenseful and moody atmosphere, calling back to 70s hicksploitation titles featuring mountain men demoralizing outsiders, forcing the victims to take drastic measures to survive in vein of Deliverance (1972).

The movie's eerie, sullen and isolated mountain backdrop certainly help maintain the intensity of the later cat-and-mouse action, especially at night wherein certain scenes have the surviving few confronting the threat in the dark, forcing them to viciously lash out like cornered animals. The killers themselves are no joke neither; though they're dumb-looking, child-like and creates weird "whistle-giggle" noises, they're no less lethal in their murdering spree. Their origins weren't fully explained but the mountain family living within the woods hints a connection to them, along with ideas of incest and inbreeding being thrown in during a few conversations. Nevertheless, they're your basic towering boogeymen who just happen to be roaming the woods for some people to cut up just for the heck of it and, in that contextual notion, nothing could be scarier.

A real slow-burner, this one is, Just Before Dawn (1981) is often overlooked as another backwoods slasher romp, though one with decent atmosphere and some workable creep factor. Frankly, it's an alright film for avid slasher fans, even if it does take a while or so before much of the bloody action starts. Be patient with it and you may have yourself a rough gem here.

1 male had his groin impaled with a saw-toothed machete
1 male pushed off a cliff and drowns in river
1 male pinned and impaled on the ground with a machete
1 female killed offscreen
1 male repeatedly shot on the back with a shotgun
1 male choked on a fist
Total: 6

Short On Plot, Heavy On Randomness: The Gruesome Twosome (1967)

The Gruesome Twosome (1967)
Starring: Elizabeth Davis, Gretchen Wells and Chris Martell

Elderly matron Mrs. Pringle and her retarded son Rodney scalp young coeds who drop by in their wig store to harvest their hair and make more wigs out of them. When her friends begins to thin out, Kathy, a concerned student, starts snooping around much to the patience of her boyfriend, tracing the disappearances to the The Pringle's wig store, discovering what lies behind it.
Mmm...yummy...the chicken that is.
And that's pretty much the whole story. Yeah, all play and no work makes The Gruesome Twosome a weak and bizzare proto-slasher and while I know this is made from the decades wherein splatter matters in drive-in films, classics like TWO THOUSAND MANIACS! would at least have some bits of core in its gore.

This film lacks focus, filling itself up with a lot of scenes that doesn't really had anything to do with the plot, like some dude and his girl in a date with the gorging down potato chips and drown himself with wine, or that demolition derby that run around for nearly 10 minutes, just to name a few. The only good thing about this film is that the splatter at least got the ball rolling as whenever Rodney kills, he does it with so much clumsiness and lumbering buffoonery that his kills are messy, even for our standards today! (Not to mention Rodney's little quarrel with his last victim. Let's just say he had to keep an eye on her...)
Scalping via kitchen knife=messy
Fans of drive-in splatter will definitely love this, heck, the rest of the world might as well for all I care, but it's gonna take more than three murders and a 7 minute clip of two sentient wig store mannequin heads talking to each other about the wigs being placed in their heads (and to add the weirdness of this, one of them DIES!) to keep me entertained and satisfied.
Family bonding with the (S)Pringles
If you're looking for randomness, cheesy gore and a horror flick with no depths, you've found it, everybody else, move along.

1 female talking mannequin head gets a knife on the top of her head
1 female scalped with kitchen knife
1 female beheaded with electric knife
1 female gets hacked open with machete
total: 4

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bodycount Trilogy: Screamtime (1983)

Screamtime (United Kingdom, 1983)
rating: ***
Starring: Vincent Russo, Michael Gordon and Marie Scinto

It's not very often we get treated with a full slasher anthology. Most horror anthologies are a bash-pride of different sub-genres placed into one big movie (the Creepshow series, Body Bags (1993), Nightmares (1983), The Trilogy of Terror series just to name a few) but Screamtime didn't even out the distribution of sub-genres for all three of these stories had more than a nod to the hack n' slash fims, they are hack n' slash films.

Creepy dolls looked creepier in "That's the way to do it"

The first of the segment, "That's The Way to Do It", tells us a story of a Puppeteer whose shows aren't bringing any more money. His persistence to keep his job and his puppets strikes more than a nerve to his wife and their teen son as they threatened to leave him if he kept doing the puppet shows. To add insult to injury, his son burns down his small theater no soon after humiliating him in front of his audiences. Not long after, "Punch" is out there bashing to death all those who upsets his master with his stick.

"Dreamhouse" Segment. The wet dream of home invasion enthusiasts
The second segment delivers more blood, "Dreamhouse" had two couples moving in to a new house but as soon as they're settled in, the wife began seeing a visions of brutal murders. They dismiss this at first but the visions got so real and visceral, line between fiction and reality begin to blur for her.

Cheesy gnomes and Elizabethean ghosts in "Do You Believe in Faries?"
The last entry "Do You Believe In Fairies?",  is more of a mixture of slasher, fantasy and haunted house genre, as a young lad, desperate for some money to pay some heavy debt, decides to steal some antiques from his new employer's home. But unknown to him, his employers' stories of fairies guarding their homes may not be fiction after all.

All this packed in a wraparound which tells the story of a couple of thieves stealing these tapes off a local videostore (each containing the segments, with the petty thieves commenting the films at the end of each), only to be rewarded for their crimes ala "fourth wall" attack from the characters.

"That's The Way to Do It" is the best of the segments, with a creepy puppet flying and attacking his victims while talking and singing in a high shrill voice and a fairly sympathetic lead character whose passion for his job may or may not be getting into his head. "Dreamhouse" brought the most gore than the two combined, with a whole family murdered (including an onscreen child-knifing!) and a devilishly clever twist. While the first two are pure slasher to the core, "Do You Believe in Fairies?" featured some EC comics style of terror and humor that's all cheesy yet comic-book friendly.

It's a pretty decent attempt to create a trilogy of slasher shorts but it has its off moments. Some of the stories would had benefited more as a feature but some are just weak (especially the last). There's a copious amount of cheese present in each story and I'm not to argue, but a little less of cheddar and more thrills could had done the job right. Despite the cheesiness and each segment being altogether different, they're all modest horror stories in the end that's made to entertain.

Screamtime is a good thing to rent, or own if you're a fan of cheesy anthologies. Just remember not to steal it...

1 male beaten to death with plank
1 elderly female beaten to death with plank
1 male had his head beaten with plank
1 male crushed to death in trash compactor
1 male found stabbed to death
1 female stabbed to eath with knife
1 boy stabbed to death with knife
1 male stabbed and slashed with knife
1 male strangled and slashed with knife
1 male had his throat cut with razor
1 male strangled to death
1 male mauled to death
1 male gets flying knives to the chest
1 male strangled
1 male beaten to death with a plank
total: 15

Welcome to "Bratislava": Hostel (2005)

Hostel (2005)
Rating: ***
Starring: Jay Hernandez, Derek Richardson, Jennifer Lim, Eythor Gudjonsson and Barbara Nedelj√°kov√°

Ah, yes, Torture Porn. By the time this horror subgenre hit the public, it's met with loud bashing and riots by angry mothers and churchgoers due to its depiction of over-the top-violence and gore. It was even met with notoriety among some slasher fans for "ruining" that sub-genre, degrading it into pseudo-snuff films with prolonged deaths and gross-out factors. Because of that, many horror fans separate Torture Porn as an entirely different horror sub-genre, but that doesn't stop it a few to still consider classic titles like Hostel (2005) as a slasher. 

In the past five or so years, Torture Porn did influence many slasher titles to go beyond the tame. Though I'm not going to agree that the idea is completely good, these new wave slashers need some love and acceptance so I welcome Hostel (2005) into my humble slasher review site as a hybrid of both genres.

The scene involves a trio of college students looking for some T&A across Europe. After a little brush with the locals late at night, got what they wanted as a friendly Russian man informs them of one such place near Bratislava, where girls are always looking for sweet American asses. Of course, the boys got what they are looking for the moment they arrive, but what they didn't expect is to be targeted by an underground organization working a "murder-for-profit" ring.

For me, just because a slasher film went off the pattern of stalking dumb teenagers in an isolated cabin with power tools one by one, it doesn't make them any less than one. This being said, Hostel (2005) has a lot going on to make it your standard dead teen flick; the plot has this hidden conspiracy vibe going, focusing more the mystery happening behind the saunas and raves, letting go of slasher staples such as chase, stalkings and a basic killer, as well as having a bigger emphasis on the "Final Boy's" escape in the end. 

Of course, to keep the horror elements as present as ever, this Eli Roth directed feature made itself for pure gorehounds as mutilations go heavy the more the story develops, with the first kill starting out pretty tame (an off-screen beheading) before going to an all-out splat attack on the audience with an assortments of murders such as castration, electrocution, disembowelment, you name it. No one saw it coming and it was enough to keep its fans happy.

As I see it, Hostel (2005) is more as a revival of Herschell Gordon Lewis's splatter films that started in the 60s with more visceral details than before, as well as paying a few nods to past slasher films. (like that obvious tribute to Leatherface's little "accident" in the first Texas Chainsaw Massacre back at 1974 and the usual teens in peril of masked psycho/es plot line) Interestingly, some of the disrepute this film have didn't come from the gore alone, but also the interpretation of a European country as a war plagued, crime high and smut infested land where abducting vacationers and selling them to willing buyers to murder is their only way to mostly relieve themselves from these problems. 

I genuinely like to see Hostel (2005) as a bonafide splatter film where you just sit back and enjoy the carnage without thinking too much. It's shallow, yes, but I'm a gorehound at heart. If I wanted more of a story coming from a Torture Porn flick, I would see its sequel instead (which is a lot better, surprisingly!) or even the beautifully tragic 7 Days (2010) (AKA Les 7 jours du talion), but as for this, I'm simply cool with it.

1 male head seen
1 female tortured, later seen mutilated
1 male had his heels cut, neck slashed offscreen with a scalpel
1 male seen with his neck being mutilated
1 male seen being killed with a powerdrill
1 male seen being castrated
1 male seen being bludgeoned with a board.
1 male accidentally sawed off his own leg with a chainsaw, shot on the head
1 male shot 
1 male hammered on the head
1 male shot
2 females and 1 male repeatedly ran over with car
2 males got their heads bashed in with rocks
1 female throws herself into an incoming train
1 male had his neck slashed with a scalpel
Total: 18

(Note: in some version of  the film, the final kill didn't happen. Paxton, after escaping and about to board a train, spots the Dutch Business man with his daughter. He follows them to the bathrooms where, while the Business man did his...business, he kidnapped the daughter. Once the Dutch businessman notices her absence, he begins calling out for her, panicking as the film ends with Paxton, with coldness in his eyes, leaves with his hands muffling the girl quiet. 

On a personal note, I really prefer this ending!)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Short Shear Terror: Dara (2007)

Dara (Indonesia, 2007)
Ratings: ****
Starring: Shareefa Daanish, Ruly Lubis and Mike Muliadro

She's too perfect...ya got to be ignorant to not notice that...
Adjie is a man in loved with Dara's cooking and Dara hersel. This is no surprise as Dara is pretty for a woman of her age and successful enough to own a stable restaurant, so when she invited Adjie to her house, the man never had a hint of doubt...

Until he wakes up chained to the wall of a room filled with dismembered human, suspiciously piled up like beef.

In a twist, Dara turns out to be a savage slasher collecting men for their meat, serving them as ingredients for her restaurant's exquisite delicacies.So now, poor Adjie is next in line and just as Dara's about to slash him with her chaisnaw, someone comes knocking on her door...

Fast paced yet well developed, Dara is a dark comedy of minimal length that's good enough to satisfy our slasher cravings with Texas Chainsaw Massacre inspire mayhem, a few nod to the first Hostel movie and perhaps the next big female psycho to she grab our attention.

The story is a devilish gender-reversal that packs enough blood and guts, as well as a few chuckles when our villainess' plans didn't go quite as she planned, and being a movie that only runs for 22 minutes, I am actually quite impressed by the well-paced direction and savagery, despite its rather predictable story.

The film would later receive a longer, gorier and more mystified feature made by the same people who created this short at 2009 title Macabre which I can assure you is good enough to be in someone's to-see list. Until then, this little devil, along with other short horror films from Indonesia, got compiled and packaged into one DVD titled "Takut-faces of Fear". I've yet to see the rest of the compilation, but I can assure you, Dara delivers.

1 male shot to his chest with a crossbow, neck slashed with machete
1 male had his head chopped off with machete
1 male slaughtered with chainsaw
total: 3

Golden Title: Psycho (1960)

Psycho (1960)
Rating: *****
Starring: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh and Vera Miles

We owe a lot to this film. If it wasn't for Norman Bate's id, we wouldn't have the human monsters grabbing knives and starting chainsaws today. That simple act of murder started millions of titles to do the same. So now, I bring you the masterpiece of all masterpieces: Psycho.

In Phoenix, Arizona, lovers Marion Crane and Sam Loomis want to get married but Sam's heavy debt kept them from doing so. When Marion came back to her work, she's trusted with $40,000 in cash by her employer which is to be deposited, only for her to steal moments later and drove off to her boyfriend's home in California.

Her suspicious behavior caught the attention of one cop along the way, so she trade cars on a local dealership, stapling their suspicious further with her anxious state as she does. That night, a storm caught up to her and she is forced to pull over to a motel, one that is alone in the hills and standing next to a house, belonging to one Norman Bates.

Bates warms up to her as she is friendly to him, and invites her for dinner where a heated discussion concerning a conversation she overheard between Bate's mother and him sparked something that upsets the man. Feeling guilty over this and the money she stole, Marion contemplates her actions and decided to return the cash the next day.

As Marion figures her next step, she decided to cool off with a shower. Behind the curtain, while she washes, someone silently walks in, clenching a knife, and stabs Marion to death. Not too long after the brutal murder, Norman sees the body and desperately dispose it, along with her belongings,  in a nearby swamp, knowing his mother was responsible for it.

In California, Sam is contacted by Lisa Crane, Marion's sister, who's worried that Marion hadn't been showing up for work or answering her calls. With them soon was Milton Arbogast, an investigator who's been hired by Marion's employer to recover the missing $40,000. He traces Marion to Bate's Motel and questions him about her, which he lied (unconvincingly) that she had left for weeks. Arbogasts learns about Mrs. Bates and asks Norman if he can talk to her, but Bates tells him that she's ill and prefers to be alone.

After phoning Lisa of the findings, he later went into Bate's house hoping to question his mother, but he got attacked and murdered instead by a faceless killer.

Lisa and Sam finds out from the local sheriff, after informing him of Arbogast's sudden disappearance, that Mrs. Bates died ten years prior in a murder-suicide along with her lover. Finding no concern from the local police, Sam and Lisa headed to Bates' Motel, posing as a married couple and investigates on their own on what had happened to Marion and Arbogast. As Sam distracts Bates, Lisa moves into Bate's house and looks for any clues. She, however, found no ill mother to question; Bates realizes that Lisa's been missing for a while, knocks Sam unconscious and ran straight to his house, forcing Lisa to hide in the cellar. There, she found the preserved corpse of Bate's mother and Bates, now in his "mother" persona, about to attack her. Fortunately, Sam regains consciousness and grapples Norman down long enough to get him arrested.

A psychiatist informs Lisa, Sam, and the sheriff, upon Bate's arrest that his normal persona is now gone and his "mother" persona had taken over completely. He began telling them of Bate's pathology, as an abused boy by his mother, who lives with her as if they're the only ones in the world until that day ten years ago had fractured his mind. He murdered his mother and his lover over jealousy and kept her body, in denial that she is dead. He began talking to her, and, in a split persona, answers to a series of conversations. When Marion came, Norman was aroused, Mother was threatened to what this would do to them and kills her out of jealousy. Norman was unaware of all of his and, after them finding out the real Mrs. Bates, the mother side had now complete control over him.

The film ends with Norman -sorry, "Norma"- reassuring "herself" that they cannot convict her forever, seeing that she had done no crime and it was all "Norman's" doing, smiling at us as she claims she wouldn't hurt anyone, not even a fly...

A Drama, a Thriller, a Horror Mystery, Psycho had the makings of becoming the first staple slasher film, further exploiting many others to do the same approach in terms of horror and thriller movies. The film would even be one of the many titles to inspire Italian directors in the 60s/70s to create murder mysteries themselves in the form of "Giallo" films. From Giallo then came our beloved slasher flicks, the grand-grandchildren of a 50 year old film.

Psycho's legacy would later be followed with three sequels (one being  part-prequel), further exploring Bate's exploits of his mental condition, but none of them came close to this film's cerebral nature, cleverly directed cinematography and hidden symbolism and hints.

Of course, the world is a dark place in Hitchcock's mind, and his take on the murder-mystery is indeed an unbeatable classic. Every horror fan, even film buffs alike, should at least see this magnificent piece of film. Feel the dread as it is that time and see the genius the is Alfred Hitchcock's PSYCHO.

1 female stabbed to death with kitchen knife (Classic scene)
1 male stabbed to death with kitchen knife
1 mummified female body found
total: 3

Feinstone, Her! Dr. Cain! : The Dentist 2 (1998)

The Dentist 2: Brace yourself (1998)
Rating: ***
Starring: Corbin Bernsen, Jillian McWhirter and Jeff Doucette

Some time after getting institutionalized for murdering people around his dental clinic, Dr. Alan Feinstone escapes and takes on a new life as Dr. Cain in Paradise, Missouri. He soon murders a local dentist there over a cheaply-made tooth cap and quickly takes over as the small town's dental surgeon which he does try his best to be normal at and somewhat succeeding. 

When his muted wife, surviving her husband's attempt to murder her, caught wind of his escape, however, she wanted him tracked down and hires an investigator to find out where he escaped to so she can get her revenge. With this, along with some people recognizing him from his previous murdering spree getting in the way of his newly found life of normalcy, perhaps Dr. Feinstone may need to drop the good doctor act for a good old' fashion murder spree if he wants to cut off all of these loose ends.

To be honest, The Dentist 2 just as good as the original, only now we're aware what kind of horrible things our "hero" is capable of doing so there's very little surprise left for us. What we're treated here with is a narrative involving our titular killer dentist trying to fit in a new town while attempting to repress his murderous nature. The way I see it, the plot's more mellow than the hate-filled first as there are a few more dark humor inserted among its decent kills, brutal dental torture and even a tragic love angle reminiscent from films like Psycho 3 or Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence. Not a bad run all in all despite occasional hiccups, like its weird ending that leaves us with a cliffhanger questioning where the franchise would go if they kept going. 

If you're an avid fan of the first, The Dentist 2 is an unnecessary yet watchable movie to spend a night with. Just don't watch it before your dental appointment tomorrow morning...

1 female missing (presumably killed)
1 male falls down the stairs and broke his neck
1 male anesthetic injected to his ear
1 male hammered to death
1 female dental tortured, later found dead with her lips cut off
1 female bludgeoned with wooden board on the head
Total: 6

Cavity, dentures and kitchen knives: The Dentist (1996)

The Dentist (1996)
Rating: ***1/2
Starring: Corbin Bernsen, Linda Hoffman, and Ken Foree

I was never afraid of dentists.

I'm not lying, I find those needles to be quite stingy but ticklish, and those drills soothing in my mouth. By the time it's over, I feel like a million bucks better with those pearly whites clean or my caps filled.

"I'm here to make you feel better..."
Of course, there were those times when I've felt the uncertainty of leaving my whole mouth open for a man to operate on. What if he's not qualified to do this, nor does he really care for his profession? Or worse, what if he's insane beneath that smile?

Dr. Alan Feinstone is a rich and successful dentist living in Beverly Hills. He has a beautiful wife, a wonderful mansion, a penchant for opera music, and a perfectionist.

Maybe too much of a perfectionist; he expects it from everybody including his wife, his staffs and even his patients. His search for perfection is putting a dent to his sanity as well as his job, but things begins to go out of hand once he found out his wife was cheating on him with a pool boy.

After a day of pressure, horrific visions, and threats, he snaps. He begins to coldly calculate on "fixing" every problem he can find with his life (starting with his wife), and finish it off with anything he can find, whether it's a kitchen knife, a gun, or even a set of dentist drills...
For some people, this is considered a "turn-on"

Brian Yuzna (Producer and director of cult classics such as "Castle Freak (1995)" and the Reanimator series) taps within a childhood fear and mixed it with a surprisingly good story, about a medical man's descent into madness and a narrative of the day it went all to hell. What was supposed to be a simple, "Time-bomb" horror flick, The Dentist brought forth some great tension and shocks in favor of cheese and dumbfounded plot. It slowly builds up to our expectations of a spree killing and when it happens, it didn't gave up on the gory goodness.

We get to see it all through Feinstone's perspective, which makes The Dentist more of a special take on the slasher genre, with our killer is our main subject rather than the victims. The fact that there's barely any background on how or why Feinstone became this unhinged made the character more unnerving and intense. Corbin Bernsen making a fine performance as our deadly dentist, showing a rather calm, calculated and hygenic killer that murders with style and procession, making his character likable and somewhat unique.
oh shit...there goes every dental check-ups I'll be needing...
The only drawbacks this film suffers from were some dragging scenes and a few failed black humor. Pace is even, but there just some part that I felt a little unnecessary. Thankfully, the flow of the story managed to cover it up and linked it nicely to the murder spree later on.

It's has cult standards written all over it, and its popularity within the fans of grue earned it a sequel received with mixed feelings. Nevertheless, while I consider this a tamer effort by the man who brought gallons and gallons of fake blood in all of those Reanimator movies, The Dentist is a good rental for those who loves a little body horror with their slasher films.

1 male shot in the mouth (dream)
1 dog shot on the head
1 male neck slashed with knife
1 female strangled with stockings
1 female syringe full of air to her neck, killed via air bubble to the brain.
total: 5

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Time After Time After Time After Time...: Camp Slaughter (2005)

Camp Slaughter (2005) (AKA "Camp Daze")
Ratings: *1/2
Starring:  Kyle Lupo, Anika C. McFall and Matt Dallas

It probably looked good on paper; a slasher film about a time loop and a group of teenagers getting themselves stuck in said loop wherein a string of murders took place. It's an original idea, nobody had done it before, so what went wrong?


Some teens venture into the wrong road one night and ended up getting attacked with mud pies; later in the morning, they find themselves in Camp Hiawatha, where every counselor and campers act and dresses as if they're in the 80s. Before you could say "Jason" (actually, they kept mentioning his name every time something creepy happens that it's annoying... really fucking annoying....), a gloved killer starts bumping off the campers and counselors with some rather uninspired and repetitive kills.


As night draws near to their deaths, our teens see themselves waking up in Camp Hiawatha again, everyone that was killed before alive and well, reliving the same day. Yeah, it's Groundhog Day (1993) meets Friday the 13th. (Part 2,3,4,5,6,7,8...every one of them!) Now that they're aware of what's happening, they decided to help the counselors survive that night in order to free them from repeating the same night over and over again. But is that all there is? Who is the actual killer? Or Killers?

Camp Slaughter (or Camp Daze ) has a lot to offer concept-wise, but its lack of money to budget such a big idea hinders it from being an effective horror flick. The kills are recycled and, I can't believe I'm saying this, too much as we got a lot of unnecessary sub-plots and scenes that are just placed there to heighten up the kill count, such as a "double flashback" that took place in the end and a "nightmare massacre" where one pissed-off play director kills an entire cast after they couldn't do their roles right.

The script is weak ("Jason"... felt like he was mentioned more than ten times...by the same actress...all in separate scenes...) and the acting is off way too many times, but at least it did manage to waver us from figuring out the killers too soon. If done right, the film would had been a mini-cult classic as horror's first time travel-slasher film, predating Timecrimes (2007) and even Triangle (2009). But it flopped right by the time we get to meet the casts, hear the low quality audio, cringe at the bad acing and groan at the really unoriginal deaths mashed together for a film that's executed with a quality that's bad even for a B-Movie!

Not sure about you guys but this film is garbage. At least the producer's Frat House Massacre (2011) was an improvement...

1 male strangled with noose
1 female killed
1 male strangled
1 female had an arrow shot to her neck
1 male had his head crushed against a tree with a belt
1 male had his neck slit with knife (dream)
1 male stabbed to death (dream)
1 male and 1 female skewered together with spear
1 male hanged and had his gut hacked open with axe
1 male had his neck slashed with machete
2 males skewered together with spear
1 female pitchforked on the back
1 male same pitchfork from above stabbed to his chest (so...they're skewered again...)
1 male stabbed to death with hunting knife
1 female axed on the face
1 male had an arrow head taped to the door swinged into his throat
1 female hacked to death with machete
1 male hanged
1 female had an arrow shot to her eye
1 male decapitated with thrown buzzsaw
1 male speared
1 male hacked to death with machete
1 male beheaded
1 male speared
1 male hacked to death with cleaver
1 female neck broken
1 boy drowned (flashback within a flashback...I'm not kidding...)
9 males shot with arrows (flashback)
1 female shot with arrow
1 male had his neck crushed
Total: 40

HelluvaBurger? Helluvillain! : Drive Thru (2007)

Drive Thru (2007)
Starring: Leighton Meester and Nick D'Agosto

A duo of wannabe punks and their girlfriends stop by a drive thru burger joint "Hellaburger" after a night of vandalizing and alcohol in-fueled rage, only to be repeatedly insulted by someone on the other side of the drive thru's intercom. The punks decided to crash in and show whoever's inside who's boss, only to find no geeky nerd nor a fat manager handling the joint, but rather came face to face with a demonic maniac who resembles the restaurant's mascot "Horny The Clown", who easily dispatches them with a mean cleaver.

We then shift our attention to a backyard party that is later cut short when the cops show up when they became too rowdy. Not wanting to end the night early, our lead, Mac, along with her boyfriend, Fisher, decided to have fun inside by playing with an Ouija board with their friends. Strangely, while the board apparently worked, all it gave out was a series of jumbled letters and numbers; this later turned out to be  the plate number of the car owned by the opening victims.

For some stranger reason, Mac continues to receive more weird premonitions via 70s toys (Magic 8 ball, Etch-a-Sketch, etc.) of those who are gonna bite the big one, as well as being attacked and stalked by the same killer clown whose presence may had something to do with the restaurant's hidden legacy. Could Mac have a connection to the killings? Who is Horny The Clown?  And who's crazy enough to eat them sloppy burgers? (seriously, look how oily those things are...)

Released by Lionsgate, Drive Thru is another Direct to Video effort that, while technically bad, it is somehow made a little bearable thanks to its angry, remorseless, and maniacal killer. The film itself is a plethora of cliches but works pretty well as a star vehicle for another wise-cracking killer with a whole lot of style.

The visual effects can be poor as you can obviously tell what's CGI/ CGI assisted or not and the acting varies from hilarious to wooden. And then there's the plot twist that was really A Nightmare on Elm Street(1984) rip-off with the killer's creation centered on a secret kept by the victim's parents, death by fire and vengeance inflicted upon the children of all those responsible. Unnecessary subplots were plenty and all left open for a possible sequel which felt overworked for nothing.
"Relax, it's just a candle. Wait til' I show you the flamethrower!"
And yet, with the I'm willing to put those aside thanks to the film's energy and camp value, and too the series of blood-soaked killings that are as silly and/or gruesome as possible. There's a lot of heart and guts put into the direction and the corniness is just workable as a campy horror flick.

There's little else to say about this movie other than it can be a lot of fun. It's obviously not meant for everyone but anybody with an appreciation for bad movies can get a whole lot of entertainment from this. Drive Thru is worth the rent and a good viewing company with your greasy chicken nuggets and monster burgers.

1 male found with his face dunked into deep fryer
1 male chopped repeatedly with cleaver
1 female gets a cleaver buried into her head
1 female killed offscreen
1 female had her head chained inside a microwave and cooked until it explodes
1 male found hanged
1 male decapitated by the mouth with cleaver
1 female hacked to death with cleaver
1 male had his head split with cleaver
1 male hacked to death with cleaver
1 male burned to death (flashback)
1 female found in pieces
1 male sliced in half with cleaver
1 male killed offscreen with cleaver
total: 14
...Really?....Which Bush are we talking about here...