Friday, September 30, 2011

Origins of a madman: Psycho IV The Beginning (1990)

Psycho IV: The Beginning (1990)
Rating: ***1/2
Starring: Anthony Perkins, CCH Pounder and Henry Thomas

I just love it when they end things with a bang! I love that deep satisfaction of a successful run and Psycho pretty much done that on its own as a franchise, with each film as watchable as they are interesting. (That is until the remake happened, but that's another story...)

Psycho IV acts as both a finale and a prequel of the whole series, with Norman Bates, apparently sane now, sharing his personal experience with a radio talk show hosted by a spunky Fran Ambrose with Norman's former psychiatrist Dr. Richmond as her guest. Bates, calling himself "Ed" over the air, soon reveals that he'll kill again, prompting everyone to start taking him seriously.

As Fran tries to talk some sense into Bates, we see his past, chronologically reversed, revolving around his mother's abusive relationship with him as a child and a teenager, his near-incestuous feeling towards her, the time she brought home a boyfriend, and the murders.

At the near end, it is revealed that Bates will soon become a father and fears that his child will be as terrible of a monster as he is. With time running out, Bates has to make a choice and decide his own fate for the last time.

I recall watching this as the very first Psycho film I indulged as a child. Unlike the last two sequels that dabbled into slasher territory, Psycho IV was more of a PSYCHOlogical narrative (haha, pun...) that puts us into the mind of Norman Bates with that much detail for the first time. However, there are some inconsistencies that leaves some fans into filling in the holes themselves. We all know that Dr. Bill of Part II was the psychiatrist who handled Norman's case but now we got this other fella claiming to be the Bates expert. My filling for this was that he probably handled Norman before he went through Dr. Bill Raymond sometime after the first film and before its sequel. But then again, this is a minor case, and I hardly see anyone working up on this.

The film isn't half bad for a finale either, as Bates is now in full "sympathy mode" and yearning for our forgiveness for all the crimes he had done, even more desperate than in part III when he tried to end "Mother's" control on his life. In here, we finally get to see how terrible Mrs. Bates was; suffering from the same line of mental problems as her son, she probably would have won the "Worst Psycho Mama" award rather than Mrs. Voorhees of Friday the 13th herself. She back talks her son, beats him for no apparent reasons (often at times she's even to blame for it) and goes crazy at the littlest things. Olivia Hussey portrays our Norma Bates, and to a good extent, she nails her part perfectly as a clingy mother and a psychopath on her own terms.

While Anthony Perkins plays his star character again as an adult while Henry Thomas fills in the shoes of a teen Bates. Though Thomas' portrayal can be a bit dodgy at times, he managed to play the "Mother" role with creepiness as he murders those who arouses him and shows a premature Bate's descent into madness.

The murders aren't anything special, but acceptable enough to fill in some time. The real cake in this movie is the story, appealing and well-scripted to keep you glued on the screen, it backs up every tiny detail of the narration and tries as much as possible to pass a workable story that was only hinted in the original.

Overall, Psycho IV is something entirely different as a slasher sequel, and considering the themes this movie had to work with, it surprisingly resulted to one moderate success as it dares to go further than most (recent) TV movies might. A lot of heart was in this and I wholly accept it. Best way to end a classic slasher series!

1 female knifed to death
1 male seen dead, stung to death by bees
1 female strangled with rope, later drowned in a lake whilst trapped in a car
1 male poisoned
1 female poisoned
total: 5

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Bride of Norman Bates: Psycho III (1986)

Psycho III (1986)
starring: Anthony Perkins, Diana Scarwid and Jeff Fahey

Psycho II= financial success=moderate approving critiques+ open ended ending=THIRD MOVIE! If my calculations are correct, that will also mean the production will do better, yes?

Hard to say but fairly enough, it's still watchable.

Punctured late into the 80s slasher boom, Psycho III takes place some years after the events of Part II, with Norman Bates back to his old murdering self and killing his aunt, who claimed to be his real mum. In this entry, however, Norman isn't the only troubled soul.

The movie opens hectically with a nun racing to the top of a bell tower to commit suicide as she denounces God. Said nun is Marlene Coyle, whose attempt to end her life lead to the death of another sister who was trying to help her, an act resulting to her exile.

After a long night walk and a near rape from soon-to-be Bate's assistant manager Duane Duke, Marlene ended up staying in bates Motel, much to Norman's uneasiness as she strongly resembles one late Marion Crane, one of his victims.

With Norman's troubled past getting to him again, he tried to kill the former nun that night but was surprised to find her dying, bleeding to death from wrists slits. Norman saves her and they fell in love, one troubled person with another, but just as things look like they'll be going better for Norman, "Mother" began taking her murderous jealousy out on random victims, and one Tracy Venable, a journalist doing a bit on serial killers letting out of the street, is starting to feel a tad unsure about Norman being cured of his dementia. It's only a matter of time before Norman totally loses it, and when he does, will there be anybody left to stop him?

While Psycho II promised and delivered well made twists, thrills, and enough blood to keep slasher fans giddy, Psycho III upped its game on the sleaze and blood, all the while focusing on Bate's struggle to be normal. While the latter have been done in II with much style and craft, III forgot the craft and ended up too exploited for its own good and became, for the first time, "just another slasher film".

This isn't entirely a bad thing but it just sets the franchise on a road that nearly went to mediocrity. One reason for this was that it lacked any interesting characters, this including Marlene who, in all honesty, isn't that special of an additional to the franchise's own mythos as other than the fact that she's the first to make-out with Bates, she comes out as whiny, nihilistic and agnostically confused about both spiritual and Earthly matters. She's as delusional as Bates but she's unable to hide any of that and it is hard to like someone who's this confused with no distinctive likable traits.

And then there's the other two, the sleazy Duane, whose dream of becoming a rock star forces him to blackmail Bates into giving him the lease of the mansion for money, and Stacy Venable, whose persistence to find the truth and refusal to let Norman alone just pushed the poor man further back into killing than actually help him. These two just can't leave the crazy guy alone and they come out as rather annoying, to the point that I actually cheered when Duane bites it, but groaned when Stacy survived.

Thankfully, despite these annoying new casts, the one thing that I came to appreciate about this movie is that, to compare this with another film, Psycho III did what Texas Chainsaw massacre would do in its own first sequel and that is it tries to flesh out Norman's human side through "love". Technically, this is the first time we see Norman "properly" in love with a woman and the film tries to explore that phase of his life and how much it would directly affect him. The results is obviously chaotic but it does help move the story to an interesting light and develop its real star with much sympathy and need, leading up to a really satisfying yet grimly open ending.

Overall, Psycho III is still watchable to some degree, the knife murders, though noticeably less than the previous film, are still bloody good, and its fun to see Bates doing his dirty work again. While the movie can grow on you, one cannot deny its simplistic entry into the whole foray. Nevertheless, it deserves a look as an underrated cult classic.

1 female falls to her death
1 elderly female head bashed with shovel (stock footage)
1 female knifed to death (stock footage)
1 female knifed to death
1 female had her throat slashed with knife, stabbed on the gut
1 male drowns in a river while trapped in a car
1 female hits the back of her head against a concrete cupid's arrow
total: 7

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Reflection of Evil: The Boogeyman (1980)

The Boogeyman (1980) (AKA "Spectre")
Starring: Suzanna Love, John Carradine and Ron James

I remember seeing this all the way back at 2011 and hating it. Hating it for the uninteresting atmosphere. Hating it for the choking amount of cheese. Hating it for being so uneven. But as time flies, my taste differs and I learned that even some terrible films can get better over repeated viewing. Will I say the same for Ulli Lommel's The Boogeyman? Let's see.

The film opens with two siblings spying on their mother and her lover making out, something the two grownups doesn't appreciate and decided to discipline one of them, Willy, by tying him up to his bed and smack him up a bit. His sister, Lacey, gets the less severe punishment of being sent to her room, but not before getting a glimpse of her brother being abused; helping him out later that night, Lacy cuts Willy free with a knife, the very same knife Willy soon uses to get revenge on his abuser by stabbing him to death once he's asleep.

Moving forward a some years later, we now see Willy (Nicholas Love) and Lacey (Suzanna Love), living a mostly normal life. I say "mostly" as Willy became mute and Lacey, now a wife and a mother, is currently being persuaded by her husband to speak to her psychiatrist Dr. Warren  (John Carradine) about the nightmares she having about "the night". Things escalate when Lacey finds a letter from their dying mother which Willy have been keeping from her; wanting closure, she decided to visit her childhood home with her partner in hopes of meeting her possibly still-living mother, but instead finds it occupied by a new family and that their old mirror is possibly haunted by the ghost of the dead boyfriend. Freaked out by the ghostly sight, Lacey resorted to smashing the mirror, unknowingly releasing a powerful evil that curses each individual shards. An evil so powerful that it can MURDER anyone who grabs a shard...or goes near it...or gets possessed by it..or something.

Watching The Boogeyman is like an acid trip. From time to time, it dozes off as a narrative of weirdly proportions, terrible pacing and dodgy editing, sugarcoated with some decent deaths. Some of said weirdness do come out rather entertaining in a "B-flick" way, but it also destroys any potential creepiness and consistency from of the film's ideas, making the entire run more of a stir-fried pasta made up of other horror films like The Amityville Horror, A Bay of Blood, Halloween, and even The Exorcist. You want unnecessary red herrings scenes that didn't make any sense to begin with? You got it! You want random teenagers that aren't essential to the plot and are instead in for the kill count? You got it! You want furniture flying around and attacking people ala Carrie? You got it! Killer window panes? You got it. You want Linda Blair demonic possession? You got it!

You can honestly tell from this that the movie's just pulling out cliches upon cliches of bad cheese and horror tropes that, frankly, can be a little over-ambitious but otherwise watchable on a level. It definitely a mess for a whole lot of people but makes something entirely unique for a slasher movie and if one can move past the laughable dialogue, low budget effects, and lack of any present humor to lighten up things especially if one or two moments should (Like that random Exorcist-esque moment during a psychiatric visit. Now this was before we even get to the part of evil mirrors, so what the heck was that about?!), The Boogeyman can be a gourmet cheese of horror entertainment that did use and twists some neat concepts based on mirrors and old wives tales.

I cannot say that this is a great slasher flick by a stretch as there are other better supernatural hodge-podge slashers out there like Superstition (1982) and Terror (1978), but for what was attempted here in The Boogeyman, it's a trial I am willing to sit through should I ever be in the mood for low-budget bodycounters that involves killer objects. Not for everybody but it is what it is and some people are bound to appreciate it even more than I did.

1 male knifed to death
1 female had her throat stabbed and cut with a pair of scissors
1 boy had his neck crushed by  window pane
1 female had her head whacked by medicine cabinet door (no, really...)
1 male gets a floating skewer impaled through his head
1 female pushed mouth first into a skewer, impaled
1 male found pinned by the neck to the wall with a pitchfork
1 female found strangled by water hose
1 male stabbed to death by flying knives
Total: 9

Short Shear Terror: Das Clown (1999)

Das Clown (1999)
starring: John Popper, Tom E. Brown and Richard Goodman

Stumbled upon this years ago. Figured I should review it here since it does have some slasher flavoring in it...

Mr. Higgins runs an antique store in middle America. He is lonely and wishes that Sparkles, a clown doll that came from Germany at the end of World War II, would come to life and play with him. On the night before Memorial Day weekend, a wind comes through the store and a mysterious book appears next to the clown. Mr. Higgins read a few pages from the book aloud only to find out its an incantation and Sparkles is now alive. With murderous intentions.

Das Clown is an art film; featured as a 10-minute slideshow format. It has a fairytale feel to it complete with a soft spoken narrator guiding us through the story and a cutesy children's theme that gives the film its creepiness and a high camp value. It's pretty unique this way and hilarious all throughout, especially once we get to the silly and kinda cheap ending that calls for some good laughs.

The end product is a modest attempt on twisting the familiar killer clown/doll sub-genre with a creative use of make-up effects which worked well with its budget limit. It's nothing that big (no pun intended) or is it that memorable but Das Clown is an interesting little bugger.

1 elderly male had his head hacked open with battle axe
1 male had a leg sawed off with chainsaw, sliced on the chest
1 female had her shoulder sawed open with chainsaw
total: 3

Revisiting Bates Motel: Psycho II (1983)

Psycho II (1983)
Starring: Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles and Meg Tilly

I had no intention of watching the Psycho sequels, I really don't. But this, along with the rest of the series, was on TV some nights ago, completely uncut, which meant I get to watch this entire franchise for free and you don't get things for free that often!

And thus, History repeats itself...

Psycho II marks the return of Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates, the titular psycho who murdered six people back in the 60s, now returning to his motel after 22 years being institutionalized. Dr. Bill Raymond (Robert Loggia) is convinced that Norman's perfectly fit to dwell within society again, but one Lila Loomis (Vera Miles), the sister of one Bates' victims, thinks otherwise. Still, Norman does attempt to be normal, even getting a job at a local diner as a dish washer and a bus boy, and go as far as befriending a co-worker, Mary Samuels (Meg Tilly), a young waitress who at first was uncomfortable with Norman but later warms up to him.

"hello old friend, happy to see me again?"

It was all fine for Mr. Bates until he starts receiving notes from his late mother, which he dismissed first as a cruel joke from those who didn't like him. But when someone sounding like his mother starts phoning him and a new string of knife murders start to take lives nearby the Bates residence, is Norman becoming "confused" again?

Being a fan of the original and having so much respect for it, I was skeptical that this sequel would hardly make up for the Hitchcockian flavor that the first film has, but Psycho II knows its audience like the back of its hands and went from a psycho-thriller to a bonafide slasher-drama as Bates is no longer just a monster here, but also a victim of his own insanity. Whether he's responsible for all the murders happening upon his release or not, how this will effect the new life he's having creates a fine tension for the film and overall, it works.

He's no Samuel Loomis, but Dr. Bill Raymond knows who's the real
devil in this film...

What the sequel does succeed even more is that it's genuinely creepy and unsettling; with Norman seeing his dead mother walking behind the curtains of his room, the threatening notes appearing out of nowhere, Norman speaking to a blank phone, the psychological torment inflicted upon Bates and those who supports him does call for some eeriness that's well made for a sequel. Thrown in some dead teenagers, a decently numbered bodycount, and some violent (and creative) knife murders, and we have ourselves here a delicious entry to the mixed bag of gags of 80s slashers.

Another thing I find impressive about this movie is the well-handled use of familiar elements from the original; showers, voyeurism, the ole' fashion "bad things happen to good people at the most unexpected time" scenario (ironically due to Norman's past infamy, but not played very well unfortunately), I have to admit defeat and accept this worthy sequel as an unbeatable slasher classic.

Friend or Foe? Mary calms Norman down.

The only drawback to Psycho II is the unnecessary twist reveal it has in the end which is followed by a shocking last minute murder ending that made me wince. Apart from that, it's creepy, tense, scary and fun, you never get to see a sequel this good nowadays so might as well take Psycho II on its own terms and like it.

1 female knifed to death (stock footage)
1 male had his face slashed with knife, stabbed to death
1 male knifed to death
1 female gets a knife to the mouth
1 male accidentally knifed on the chest
1 female shot
1 elderly female drinks poisoned tea, head bashed with a shovel
Total: 7

Monday, September 26, 2011

Slasher masks of the week vol5

Five slasher masks, randomly chosen, falls under my verdict, every week. 

here's this week's meat:

Dark Night of the Scarecrow
Bubba didn't do that heinous crime, but Bubba did put on a rather memorable mask. Pathetic looking yet creepy, he dons a hollow mouthed scarecrow mask that silently screams his plea for justice. Nice work, Bubba, see you at the other side!

Friday the 13th (part 3 onwards)
wow, lucky! Though i never quite understood why a hockey mask, Jason does look badass enough to make it work. White, emotionless, just like the Myers mask, but an added points for its tougher material.

Jason X
...aaaaand, remorse. As a sad attempt to update his mask, Uber Jason dons a mask, or gets a new face, made out of steel. cool, right? Not if it resembles a duck's bill or a groin cup...

Don't Go In the House
An underrated chiller of a slasher, Donald "Donny" Kohler gets a fire retardant suit as a disguise...well, disguise is an overstatement, he only wears it so he couldn't get burned and he only wore it so little time on screen it's hardly a disguise at all. Well, he wears a suit and it kinda works, but not that creative enough.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (series)
Skin masks are his turf, and his alone, and many others who tries to do this hardly had teh same creativity as Leatherface had on his works. The remakes had a juicier selection of the face masks, which I agree better made than the very original film.

"TOP OF THE WORLD, MA!" : Fade To Black (1980)

Fade To Black (1980)
Rating: ***
Starring: Dennis Christopher, Tim Thomerson and Gwynne Gilford

Eric is an obsessed movie buff with a penchant for old black and white titles and it is this single obsession that often gets on the nerve of his remaining family, friends and co-workers. To their eyes, he is a freak, but for Eric alone, he calls the shots in his own little world, questioning authority through a series of trivia questions and running late night marathons as he lock up in his room all day whenever Eric's not working or out at public screenings.

Things went differently for Eric one day when he met the "love of his life", Australian model Marilyn O' Connor who's a Marilyn Monroe look-alike. Though friendly towards him, Marilyn accidentally forgot a date she and Eric's supposed to have, which triggers him homicidal and killing off those who he deemed oppressing him, starting with his aunt and eventually working his way through the rest.

All the while, Dr. Jerry Moriarty, a criminal psychologists, tries to figure out who's committing these murders and to why they're each executed so differently. Will it be long before he gets his culprit, or will Eric successfully get away with his killing spree?

Fade To Black (1980) tries its best to have its audience relate to to its main character; Eric's a loner and a misfit, with no true distinctive likable trait upon the norms of society, but he does attempt his best to fit in. The movie ventures into these depths and forms a creative look into the mind of an immature and deranged character, although problem comes when we begin to see that Eric is not all that sympathetic or comfortable enough to root for since his personality is pretty selfish, hollow and rude, coming to a mean-spirited turn by the time he starts his murders. The only time the movie may have garnered our attention for his plight was during the finale atop Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood, wherein Eric was at the lowest of his psyche and more or less a wreck. Sadly, this comes in too late and it's kinda difficult for us to care for him at that point, and we're likely just watching out of interest to see how will it end for him by then.

On the film's behalf, the idea is indeed original and interesting, if not a bit satirical; the catch from this slasher is that its killer murders his victims by reenacting classic scenes from other movies, not limited around the horror genre. The idea's great, but it lacks some impact to make it as shocking, scary or even memorable as possible due to its questionable quality and/or direction; the murders are tame and uncreative, sometimes coming out as cheesily funny. However, what they lacked in shock-value, they do make up for it with trivial pursuit: staying true to the movie's theme of classic movies, Eric dons various characters to disguise himself or as an inspiration including Bela Lugosi's Dracula, William Boyd's Hopalong Cassidy, Boris Karloff's The Mummy, Richard Widmark's Tommy Udo from Kiss of Death and, perhaps memorable for me, Arthur 'Cody' Jarrett from White Heat.

Apart from that, the movie's just watchable in the sense that it perfectly juggles its drama-thriller and horror tones with a well-paced story that looks professionally done without exploiting its subject. With little gore and T&A, Fade To Black may not appeal much for those who are looking for splatter and hot bods rubbing against each other, but rather it targets those who want their horror films with some bit of thought, so long as they can look pass its cheesiness.

It's a miniature cult classic and I can understand why; if only it has more impact in its direction, I could have given Fade To Black a higher rating.

1 paraplegic female pushed down the stairs
1 female trips and impaled neck first to a wooden fence
1 male shot to death
1 male suffers a heart attack
1 male shot to death with tommy gun
1 male repeatedly shot, falls to his death
Total: 6

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fave Slasher Victims

We all have our favorite slasher victims. Those among the doomed lambs who we sometimes look up to or like for a distinctive trait, who hangs around with our heroes or heroines and get cut down in the midst of it all. Sometimes it's a little unfair and all around upsetting these lovable bunch go but what they do prior to their deaths is what makes these characters so memorable and to remember them by, here are my fave dead buddies who never got close to making out alive for the night:


Hollis (Keith Knight) of My Bloody Valentine- This chubbo is plainly lovable as hell! Even if he's huge, he's actually a pretty nice guy who looks after his friends and his cute girlfriend but, sadly, Ole Harry Warden have plans for the poor fella; after breaking up a fight, treating his friends to a trip to the mines and even going back to fetch them before escaping, all he got for his efforts is a nail gun shot to his head. Ouch Warden. Really.

Charlie (Stephen Furst) of Silent Rage- Another lovable butterball, this one's a little younger and more naive but that doesn't stop him from being puppy-dog cute, helping out his sheriff friend who acts as his father figure. (Go Chuck!) His loyalty to his beloved sheriff proves to be his undoing, though, as to buy time for Chuck Norris' character's love interest to get away, he confronted the movie's scientifically enhanced killer and had his life crushed out of him. Noble boys do die young...

Vinnie Bradshaw (Harvey Atkins) of Visiting Hours- Paraplegics sometimes get the big one in horror films like the wheelchair girl from President's Day and Mark from Friday the 13th Part 2, so Harvey Atkin's character is no exception here. Vinnie Bradshaw is a friendly wheelchair bound man who befreinds Lee Grant's character, Deborah Balin, after she got attacked by the movie's loon. What he didn't know is that he'll be included in death's list when Micheal ironside's murderous character sticks his switchblade into his gut while choking Vinnie with a stress ball!

Tim Messenger (Adam Buxtom) of Hot Fuzz- It's funny to see someone from my future field of work gets a horrible case of "Occupational Hazard" and Tim is no stranger. Killed off just because he couldn't spell wright, the band-o-killers gave him a head start to the afterlife by breaking off a dislodge church piece and DESTROYING his head with it. Fairly enough, he has the best death in this action-slasher hybrid.

Mrs. Crenshaw (Carrie Fisher) of Sorority Row- While in the original House of Sorority Row, the landlady's a big bitch who may or may not deserve the death that befall on her. In this sorta remake, we got some serious role change as, while she didn't actually do much, Mrs. Crenshaw did later turn out to be a badass shotgun totting biddy, momentarily protecting the girls from our hoodie-cloak killer and continues to do so after she got impaled to the wall. Leah Pipe's character justifies my point: "Well, who knew Mrs. Crenshaw was such a bad-ass? "

Sam Quint (Robert Shaw) of Jaws- Our Ahab of the seven seas, Sam is hardened tough by his fishing experiences and knows how to tag along with his two accomplices, bearing all the patience to teach them a thing or two about what they're dealing with. Destined to be shark food, at least he tried to fight back when ole Big Bruce chomped down on him, sticking a machete to the animal's jaws. Didn't work though.

And there you have it! Some of my fave slasher victims in their whole glory! So who are your favorite unfortunates?

Night of the killer Flutist: Blood Song (1982)

Blood Song (1982) (AKA Dream Slayer)
starring: Donna Wilkes, Richard Jaeckel and Antoinette Bower

They sure don’t make them like this anymore!

That's right! Work that flute baybeh!
In 1955, young Paul Foley witnessed his reasonably pissed-off dad murder his wife and her lover while they were havign sex. After doing the dirty deed, Mr. Foley puts his pistol to his mouth and fires away, leaving a traumatized Paul to plays his flute.

No really, he plays a friggin flute in his own form of post-traumatic shock. Well, least he didn’t try eating the dead bodies…

Usual School day for Marion
and her friend...or is it?
Any who, fast forward to 82’, Marion ( Donna Wilkes) is having these vivid dreams about a psycho, the now grown up Paul Foley (played by Frankie Avalon, who's years older after his teen idol status), escaping his ward and is now offing people who disliked his flute solo. Frightened and confused, Marion tries to tell her folks and her boyfriend about these horrid visions, but typically, nobody believes her.

As the visions get more brutal and the killer apparently getting closer to her, it begins to take toll on Marion's sanity and her life, so she decided to take a long stroll on the beach one day and, as bad luck had it, she stumbled upon none other than Paul, burying his latest addition to his murder spree. After escaping his clutches, Marion becomes Paul's little prey and he's not gonna give her up that easy...

A love note would be less messy, bub!
What I find shocking here is the quality of the film. Its practically well made despite the obscure story, with well played casts, great cinematography, awesome chase scenes (the best had to be this film's 20 minute Sawmill chase scene), and decent murders. It's pile upon pile of the good shit coating a rather trash of a plot, which involves psychic links acquired via blood transfusions. It is weird but Blood Song tried to make the idea workable and expected us to follow it; thankfully this psychic link wasn't much of a big point later on. (as if that element didn't happen)

"The Former Sax Teen Hottie
really likes you, Marion!"
As you can tell by now, the film is far from a certified classic. For starters, the idea of visions is already tackled by a far-superb and less comical The Slayer (1982); and then the stalk sequences often reminds me of Halloween, or at least its clones, with murders that aren't even that graphic. However, thanks to the odd characterization of Avalon's loonie stealing the show with his demented, sweaty, loonie persona, and too the cheesiness of the situation itself, Blood Song is far from being bad.
Fun trashy movie for a trashy afternoon or evening. Recommended for those who wanted to watch a former teen star go sweaty on killing innocent bypassers!

1 male and 1 female shot offscreen
1 male shot on the mouth
1 male strangled to death
1 male gets a hatchet to the face
1 female strangled with necklace, later dismembered with hatchet
1 male hacked to death with hatchet
1 male crushed against the wall by a reversing forklift
1 female presumably killed
total: 9

Chuck Norris Is So Badass, He's Too Good For This Movie: Silent Rage (1982)

Silent Rage (1982)
Starring: Chuck Norris, Ron Silver and Steven Keats

Before this movie, I have never seen a Chuck Norris flick. I'm serious. I've heard about Chuck and did the jokes, but I disgrace myself as a cinephile for not seeing at least one Norris movie so I guess it's only fitting that my first movie featuring this guy would be Silent Rage, an action-slasher hybrid walking around a messy road of familiar bodycounting grounds and evil science while exploiting the supposed badassery that is Carlos Ray "Chuck" Norris.

Fans, Eat your heart out!
In this flick, Norris plays Sheriff Dan Stevens, brought to a house where local nut John Kirby (Brian Libby) just went axe happy and killed two of the house's tenants. After a short fight with the law, John manages to break free from his handcuffs and tries to kill his way out only to be outnumbered by cops and shot dead.

Desperate to save him (even if he's proven to be a deranged lunatic) his psychiatrist Tom Halman (Ron Sliver) decided to ship his body to a local bioengineering lab (like any small Texan town would have) where one of the doctors suggests using an untested and experimental serum that should give Kirby regenerative powers. (Insert my confused face here asking "why?!") Of course, Kirby wakes up and thanked the doctors the only way he knows how: crushing the lives out of them and breaking into their homes to kill off their loved ones.

Obviously, it's Chuck Norris to the rescue! But not before he swoons a beautiful dame, be a big daddy figure to an adorkable deputy, fight off a ruthless gang in a bar, and go topless for the fans!

Make us proud, lil butterball!
As much as I enjoy the absurdity of the plot, I find myself in a bit of a conflict. True, it's a unique entry to the overly familiar slasher trappings thanks to its scifi mumbo-jumbo and beat 'em up action, but the film is really nothing more than clippings of Chuck Norris being badass by punching the crap out of people. There's little real story to follow and there's too many "what?!"inducing plot holes that deserve a facepalm or two from its audience. (Like, oh I don't know, mad scientists in Texas with enough resources to conduct genetic enhancement experiments and actually succeed. I'm quite curious, actually. How on Earth does a small town hospital acquire a genetics lab in the first place?!)

My pretty...
Then again, this strange direction is what makes this film so much fun; apart from Norris, we got a curious set of characters including Charlie (Stephen Furst), an adorable little butterball of a deputy who has a tragic past concerning a puppy in a freezer (!), and one Alison Halman (Toni Kalem), whose idea of romantic evening with the Norris is stargazing outside in a hammock and being our damsel in distress. (Yep, no Final Girl in this one. This is Chuck's turf!)

It also took a while before the gruesome stuffs happen, though I have to admit the wait was kinda worth it since the slasher portions aren't all that bad. I do dig the super-regenerative villain angle as it is portrayed with enough fondue that it is amusing: not only did the serum gave him the ability to heal in seconds, but it interestingly also gave him immense strength, enough to bludgeon people to death with ease. Even though I prefer my slashers slashing victims than beating them dead, I can over-look this for the decent looking Halloween-esque stalking scenes.

At least he has the nerve to be silent, right?
The finale is a bit of a let down sadly, as The Beard unleashes all of his fury unto our killer with much restrained action thanks to this scene being the last few minutes before the film ends. In fact, I don't think anyone from the scripting department thought up a good way to end this properly since it decided to leave us hanging on a possible follow-up. (That, of course, never came)

As far as slasher hybrids are concerned, Silent Rage is a confused title, shifting gears so often from one genre to another like an old man with Alzheimer in the wheel of a car. Distracting much, but bearable enough if you don't take any of this seriously. It's cheap, cheesy, almost worth being my first Chuck Norris film. (But do I want to see another? Well...)

1 male gets an axe to the face
1 female axed
1 male strangled (mostly offscreen)
1 female had her head crushed against the wall
1 male gets a syringe full of sulfuric acid to the neck
1 male had his neck snapped
1 male bludgeoned repeatedly against the wall
1 male killed (method unknown)
1 male found with cracked skull
1 male dies from a broken back