Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Long Shot. Literally: The Silent House (2010)

The Silent House (La Casa Muda) (Uruguay, 2010)
starring: Florencia Colucci, Abel Tripaldi and Gustavo Alonso

Horror movies are now taking a stab at gimmicks once again. When remakes had gone or going stale, they jumped to 3D or found footages. As I laugh at this clamor of desperate attempts to keep the industry exciting, it also occurred to me how this could affect the horror industry. Found footages seems to be the new hype on horror, but with a distinctive gimmick that only a few could perfect and a few could love, it's a tall order to make one so perfect. However, the style did seeped through the cracks, and somehow influenced a few "straight" horror genres such as this 2010, Uruguay thriller.

A single-take feature that had the format of a found footage, without the twitching and the shaking and the whatnot, with the film focuses on Laura and her father, Wilson, settling down in a cottage up for sale, but in need of repair. spending the night there and repairing it the following morning, it seems to go regularly until a noise woke Laura up, and it's coming from the house. As she and her father investigates, they find out that they're far from alone.

I don't really buy their gimmick that it's one continuous shot as i can see one or two opportunities for a quick edit. Coming in cross between Hitchcock's Rope and The Strangers, The Silent House's elongated narrative is no more than one long stalk scene between Laura and a home invader who just murdered her father. We spend the entire time watching her hide, run and cry in the darkness, all the while gong through some haunted house antic that comes in the form of a ghostly visage of a small girl. Who this girl is is slowly (and I mean slowly) revealed through the series of attacks and chases while in the mean, the nyctophobic elements of the film and, too, the brooding tension a worthwhile thrill.

The gimmick is refreshing despite already done, but its boring most of the time and the lack of any other interesting bit felt the film agape for its tension. With very little victims to go around and the kills occurring in the dark, there's nothing this slasher is rooting up from all this other than the revelation, as in my take, would have been better as a short film.

However, with all the darkness going on, and the suspense building in each scene, The Silent House is still a watchable take for the patient kind as well as those who're looking for something different. If one's a fan of found footage film or movies like The Strangers, Them (aka Ils) or any other titles that had victims fight for survival, Silent House's sui generis approach would probably be your taste. Albeit taking place in near shadows and in near silence, the film had a crisp look and much attention to detail. The twist in the end's a little confusing, but an extra post-credit shot and a montage of photos may shed some more light to it. I got to admit, I was expecting something preferable, but a twist is a twist, and being a simple one at that, I can live with it.

It may be impaired with clichés commonly found in slashers and haunted house movies, but for the most part it plays as an effective thriller and a slightly welcome breath of fresh air to the genre.

1 male slashed on the neck with sickle
1male hacked to death with sickle
total: 2

Texas Loves Prized meat: Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1987)

Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1987)
starring: Dennis Hopper, Caroline Williams and Jim Siedow

It's been a decade and a couple of years before we'd seen Leatherface and his cannibal clan. Now coming back in the 80s, the supreme reign of everything hacked and slashed, The buzz is back! And it was good.

Opening with a fine prize cut situation that shows how much the clan had improved over the years, two obnoxious teen boys, on their way to a party, giggles and pranks their way on the road, shooting signs and mailboxes with a gun, causing trouble on the locals and repeatedly larks a DJ hostess, Stretch. As night fall, the pranking continues, Stretch unwilling became a "witness" to a savage murder as the hoodlums re-encountered a truck they harassed, owned none other than the chainsaw-wielding, corpse-puppeting Leatherface (with double the gore! All Hail Tom Savini!) . The crime went recorded on their station, sound of gunshots and the roars of power-tools, but dismissed by the station as just a mean, and overly elaborate prank, until morning came.

Sheriff Lefty Enright, the uncle of the two unfortunate siblings from the original TCM, begins to obsess over the crimes. What the local authorities ensured was an "accident", Lefty knew otherwise and may have a clear idea who's behind it as he examines the saw marks on the two new victim's car. Stretch sees the news of the incident and reaches out for the good lieutenant's help.

Now set for avenging the hardships his loved ones went through, Lefty suggested to play the recorded attack on air to lure the clan out. Ensured he will be there on time to book 'em, Stretch agreed and later did so what she was told. Only, he wasn't there on time, Lefty was late, and now the goons are out to get her and is killing everyone to keep their slate unnoticed.

TCM2 is at the height of its time when it comes to ghoulish humor and gore; the latter years of the 80s weren't exactly slasher friendly, but TCM2 engineered a refreshing come back for our beloved cannibal family.

For a year where rock and roll is the rave, it's a trippy ride down to the bowels of hell as visuals and score brought up a nice, well-blended mix of surreal horror and campy, comic book terror. The characters themselves are notably insane or plain weird, a typical Hooper trait on his films. From the over-the-top Dennis Hooper's debut as a chainsaw-totting, Hand-of-God avenger to Bill Moseley's most iconic hippie-love, "Nam"-flashbacking Chop Top, it holds little on restraining the wild and untamed horror-comedy mixing on a twisted blend of a character movie. For once, we actually saw Leatherface react on his own, rather than being just another hulking killer, a subplot that involves the big guy falling for Stretch(!), as he innocently presses her chainsaw between her thighs, shares his "past time" slicing meat with her (while she's trying to have none of it) and even "romantically" dances with her (still, in her horror). Albeit a little side-tracking and a tad failure as a minimal element, I wouldn't blame everyone for trying. (at least it's funny...)

Adding to the family is Nubbins "The Hitchhiker" Sawyer's twin brother Chop Top, who remains a fan favorite and a cult recognized character that, while not having the same air of unsettling presence as his brother, provides enough grue and gags with his eccentric nature and laughable ramblings. Jim Siedow returns as The Cook, who now addressed to his full name, Drayton Sawyer, finally stepping down to his brother's level of insane theatrics of murder and mayhem, having much pride at his culinary skills while equally rambles about his family's unfit appreciation for his work.

It's quite noticeable how much TCM2 had changed from its predecessor. Either a good or a bad thing, the movie's lack of the very same atmosphere as of the first may be acquainted to it's lack of kills (despite the mountainous blood works) and it's big-budget look. The gritty feel of the first is gone, claustrophobic shots and crazy lighting, all that nightmarish feel turned cartoonish with elaborate set pieces and exaggerated characters, it surely would mean different for some of the fans, but it's far from bad. As in the bad kind of "bad". At least it's better compared to what the next follow-ups. (TCM The Next Generation, anyone?)

As the money burns on Hooper's late 80s entry, we all should be thankful we got to see Leatherface again! Far from the perfect way to do a comeback, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 was and still is a worthwhile inclusion to the series, and by far a strong one! What's my strongest entry, you ask? I could tell you, but it's a little controversial...

1 male head sliced open with chainsaw (while driving!)
1 male killed in car crash (mostly offscreen)
1 male repeatedly brained with hammer, later skinned and bled to death
1 male chainsaw sliced his arse, decimated by grenade
1 male decimated by grenade
1 elderly male decimated by grenade
1 male chest sliced with chainsaw
total: 7

You Will Die: Ju-Rei :The Uncanny (2004)

Ju-Rei: The Uncanny (Ju-rei: Gekijô-ban - Kuro-ju-rei) (Japan, 2004)
starring: Chinatsu Wakatsuki, Miku Ueno and Eriko Ichinohe

I took a gander on  Luisito Joaquín González Martín's Slasher blog the other day and saw something unusual in his slasher list. Though he doesn't include Candyman, A Night mare on Elm Street and Final Destination movies as a slasher, he included this foreign title in the pile  and it sticks out like a, well, stick in the sand. While not as strange as his reason for not considering the three aforementioned franchises as a part of the bloody family, Ju-Rei is a mishandled yet staple J-Horror with an unique build-up that's just as weird.

Told in a reverse chronological order, a set of ten "chapters" and a prologue tells the tale of a single day's haunting that took the life of thirteen individuals, committed by a strange force that takes the form of every person it kills. The thing about it is that each victims are connected to one another, and how and why the ghostly figures are after them gets revealed bit by bit in each chapter.

As I see it, it's more of a cheap-ripoff of Ju-on: The Grudge (2002) than a slasher, but the way it's structured does have its sticky red flavorings. Although the "kills" are simple draggings or death by heart attacks, tamed due to it's minimal budget, the emphasis here is more on the stalking scenes coinciding with the typical J-horror scares of long-haired ghosts, unexplained noises, figures standing on corners, etc. It's creepy as it is at a bargain price, the film's lack of visual effects giving it an uneasy feeling, however it can't really compete much to other J-Horror titles as it lacks strength in solid plotting and originality. We follow one kill to the next in each chapter until the prologue happens, yet I still feel hanging in the edge and hardly satisfied.

Still, I do love a good effort and it's rarely boring from where I stand, just lacking that certain conclusive feel to it. Too many plot holes, some very lengthy scenes and very little creative haunts may fail to succeed, but the neat mix of decent scares and tension won my acceptance.

Recommendable? I gander twice on this film to say it could be but J-Horror fans will definitely enjoy this. Or not. I still believe it'll all depend on one's taste. Slasher fans will be disappointed by its lack of blood and nudity and gore and, well, all the things that makes a slasher film a slasher, but if you open up a little, you might have a decent one night's renting. (In case I'm wrong, go rent a second movie you know you'll enjoy...)

1 female dragged away, killed
1 female killed offscreen
1 female attacked by ghosts, killed
1 male killed offscreen
1 female killed offscreen
1 female attacked by ghostly hair, killed offscreen
1 boy killed (method not seen)
1 female dragged away by ghost, killed
1 elderly female killed offscreen
1 female killed offscreen
1 male brained to death with ash tray
1 female and 1 girl presumably killed
Total: 13

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Golden Title: Deep Red (1975)

Deep Red (Profondo Rosso) (AKA The Hatchet Murders, Sabertooth Tiger, Dripping Deep Red) (Italy, 1975)
Rating: *****
starring: David Hemmings, Daria Nicolodi and Gabriele Lavia

When an English pianist (David Hemmings) living in Rome witness a viscous murder of a psychic who, only hours before, felt the presence of a madman during one of her lectures, he inevitably becomes a part of an investigation to unravel the identity of the killer. But the further he gets in solving the crime, more he becomes the homicidal obsession of the killer, who's willing to rid of people who gets in their way.

Thus starting us off with another Dario Argento classic, by far the one title that shares the same grand class and acceptance among the horror community as with Argento's supernatural giallo hybrid, Suspiria. Made after finishing the Animal Trilogy, a set of gialli made by Argento which includes Four Flies on Velvet Grey, Cat-o-Nine Tails, and Bird with a Crystal Plumage, Deep Red shows traits recognizable from these set of gialli such with the idea of "memory over suspicion", wherein a tiny overlooked detail in one's memory can easily solve a murder rather than overlooked red herrings, and the popular use of striking imagery that will soon become a staple visual style of most gialli, primarily discordant soundtracks, odd angles, rolling cameras and various lighting techniques.

The movie is visually stunning and colorful, albeit a ferocious picture that has a level of bloodshed more extreme compared to the Animal trilogy, with much attention to details and symbolic close ups of a hanged dolls or an array of toys littered next to a set of blades, eyeballs, and random animal attacks. The shots often depict an upcoming situation, acts as a clue to the killer's identity or how a victim will meet its demise, again becoming a signature style associated with Argento in his prime.

If there are any flaws one can consider, Deep Red has a wayward flow where it spends a lot of time on certain scenes that are just a little off track from the investigation, falling either as a dead end or an overlooked piece of evidence. However, it makes up for these lengthy scenes with an elaborate set-pieces of violence and suspense, using detailed build-up and enough visceral savagery to these extended murders. One well known and most recognized scenario was the murder of a psychiatrist wherein, alone in his office, he had gone uneasy and starts viewing through the windows, as if he is aware of being watched. As the soundtrack intensifies and ceases to a halt, a large mechanical wind-up doll suddenly springs out and hacked apart with a knife in shock. Not known to him was that the doll is just a distraction and killer appears from behind a curtain, bashing his teeth in against a mantelpiece before he got stabbed with a knife. This is one of the many scenes of the movie perfectly capturing suspense and horror with much Grand Guignol theatrics and sentiments.

Perhaps another highlight about Deep Red that makes up for any flaws would be that it marks the first collaboration between Argento and his soon to be staple soundtrack rock band, Goblin. It is fun to note that Goblin's Deep Red theme became the influence of John Carpenter's own Halloween theme, as so did the primary use of subconscious tracking that moves along with the film. Even if the score sounds repetitive and isn't well blended, it gave as much essentials to the film as a theme, being one of the few movie of its genre to fully embrace music as an identity.
Beautifully constructed in every way, undergoing to a completion that falls in place quite fluidly, it's a tad sad know that, seeing his recent efforts, Argento can't seem to so something this complicated yet workable. The brutal, gothic, connotative, thematically artistic, and surreal nature of his older works may have been lost now, but at least we have Deep Red to remember by, as a sheer triumphant work by all means as an Italian thriller.

1 Female hacked repeatedly with cleaver, head crashes through window and gets a throat cut on shards
1 bird accidentally flew through a knitting needle
1 female forced face-first into a tub of boiling water, scalded to death
1 Male had his teeth repeatedly bashed in against mantlepieces, knifed through his neck
1 Lizard glimpsed impaled on pin
1 Male had his head ran over by incoming car
1 Male knifed on the back
1 Female decapitated after her necklace got caught on a descending lift
total: 8

Monday, February 27, 2012

When Renting isn't enough! :Video Violence (1987)

Video Violence (1987)
starring: Gary Schwartz, Chick Kaplan and Robin Leeds

Being raised in a Catholic country, I find it funny that I still managed to see the violent movies being reviewed here in my blog. Guess you can thank my dad on that but I thank my mother as well teaching me on how to limit my viewings, balancing the number of horror movies I watch with other forms of entertainment I sometimes call palate cleansers. (listening to music, drawing comics, reading comedian biographies, the usual)

After all, too much of the good stuff can be bad, right?

The reasons I grabbed myself a copy of this cult favorite was to see whether this is worth the rave as well as curiosity seeing Gary P. Cohen, the man behind this title, got the idea for this film while working as a video store clerk; he once saw a woman came to a video rental store with her toddler and asked if the film I Dismember Mama was rated R for nudity. He wasn't sure if the movie contained nudity, but he guessed it was probably rated R for graphic violence. The woman decided to rent the movie, saying that as long as there was no nudity it would be appropriate for her children to watch. Is this the kind of craziness I will be expecting from this film?

A married couple moves to a New York suburb to open a video rental store and notices that nearly all of the residents there are only seems interested in renting slasher films and porn. After discovering that an unmarked returned rental tape have been swapped out with a homemade snuff film, our hubby and wife team desperately tries to crack the mystery of the tape when the cops failed to be any help.

Meanwhile, the townspeople, including anti-heroes Howard and Eli, continue their snuff hobbies as they pick off and mutilate lost travelers, recording it all for their viewing pleasure. When more tapes fell on the couple's interest, it's only a matter of time before their snooping would lead them to trouble.

On a technical view, Video Violence have everything of a Shot On Video title; with rubbery effects, amateurish acting and all around 80s cheese, what this film owe in surviving the video market was its unique plot. I'm quite impressed with the effort the producers did for this movie as while clearly made for fun, it plays a satirical look at our need for, well, video violence. Yes, there's clearly a mean-spirit tone here but it's played with enough overacting and bizarre nature that it's humorous in the oddest sense. heck, even the movie's theme is hilarious! (Why do I picture a basketball game in slow-mo everytime I listen to it?)

While it does have shoddy effects and editing, the basic culprits found in every shot on videos, the camera work and lighting were handled well enough to look even a bit professional, which is a good thing since the film's main highlight, the gore, was pretty sick for its time and, in a horror fanatic's way, it was good!

Some pre-Hostel situations had the two snuff masters torture and dismember their victims in favor of a town that loves them for their work, with some nasty machete kills, ice pick stabbings and lots of bloody mayhem. I find it a blessing that it's silly in nature because if the kills and actors were realistic, then Video Violence would have been too intense for viewing and we would have been stuck with a mindless, overcooked piece of horror meat.

With the air of the 80s under its wing, Video Violence is an outstanding piece of cheapie that done right its worth. Bargain-counter at all cost, but a messy fun satire of our love for violence with enough nods and winks at us slasher fanatic. Horror nostalgia for the VHS rental era of the late 80s!

1 female beaten to death with baseball bat
1 male had his head chopped with machete
1 body seen in plastic bag
1 female stabbed with ice pick
1 male strangled
1 female stabbed on the neck with knife
1 female poisoned, head chopped off with electric knife
1 male poisoned, mutilated with deli slicer
1 female seen with her leg being chopped with machete
1 female gutted with dagger
1 male seen with his face split open
1 female seen with stab wounds
total: 12

TV Terror: I'm The Girl He Wants to Kill (1974)

I'm The Girl He wants to Kill (UK, 1974) (Thriller Episode 2/ Season 3)
Starring: Julie Sommars, Robert Lang and Anthony Steel

For an episode of a TV series, I gotta say this little hidden gem of the proto-slasher variety has some decently exciting thrills and spills.

What we have here is a simple plot revolving around a loose loonie killing women, armed with a knife and a pair of white sneakers. Detective Sergeant Tanner is on the case and although he has his hands empty of any leads when a partying girl was found murdered at her doorstep and no one seems to notice the killer, he is confident that the killer will strike again.

True enough he does, only this time his crime wouldn't go unnoticed; An American woman named Anne was just coming home from work one night when she saw the man coming out of the flats she lives in. Believing he might just be a neighbor's guest or something, she first didn't think much of the encounter until she finds a murdered woman on her doorstep. Cops are soon called, Anne's questioned for the identity of the man and she gives a responding Tanner a vivid description of our killer with the assurance that he will be caught.

Months go by, the killer remains at large and Anne started dating our good detective. Taking a break from her work one day, she was window-shopping for an engagement ring when she spots the killer working in the jewelers. And to make it more complicated, so did he!

As Anne flees, the killer gives chase. Fortunately, she outruns him and quickly phones in Tanner about her findings, only to be surprised further when her lover tells her that they caught the man.

Or did they?

In a running time of an hour and five minutes, I'm The Girl He Wants to Kill practically plays its proto-slasher plot down to its most basic build, with a little style and flair thrown in the narrative for decent measures.

While it lacks a high bodycount, it makes up for it with an exciting girl-in-peril act in its last half hour, featuring enough chase sequences and pulse-pounding stalk and prowl action as Anne is soon repeatedly stalked by the silent killer after being locked alone inside a building. Her only defense against this madman is her wit and luck, to try outsmarting him in every angle which grows quite challenging for her seeing the killer is quickly earning her tricks. It's all simply realistically thrilling, as both characters bring in and use resources upon resources to try testing one's total control over the situation.

I haven’t seen any other episodes of this series yet but, given the fun quality this entry have, I guess I wouldn't mind diving into the show to see what other goodies I can catch. Although I'm hearing that some of its anthologies aren't as slasher material as this, I can at least say that I genuinely enjoy this little "thriller". A slick, tense and tight proto-slasher, I'm The Girl he wants to Kill is a tele-play worth seeing for you horror junkies out there! Catch it if you can!

1 female stabbed with knife
1 female found murdered
1 male gutted with knife
1 male dies from exhaustion
Total: 4

(Note, turns out the Americans love their bodycounting as much as I do; The US release of this episode had an extra opening murder, ALA Psycho.)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

There's a clown in the woods: Clown (2007)

Clown (2007)
starring:  Breeun Johnson, Brant Leslie and Alison Monda

The opening had our lead, Rachel bound to a table and "interrogated" by a fat bastard of a cop, the basic human structure of their kind. So it seems Rachel is the survivor of a massacre, as she's found all blood-caked in the middle of the road. If then so, why is this guy hitting her, both figuratively and literally? In one punch, Rachel's knocked out ad we go back a few days earlier.

On a warm weekend in June, a group of friends venture to the mountains for a weekend getaway. Little do they know, they're not alone. Rachel knows this, but her fears fell in deaf ears as the rest of the group laughs off her comments about the rustling in the bushes, the sounds of crazy laughter, and the shadows that keep moving around. Guess you know where this is going?

You might have, but there's a catch here: somewhere in the middle, we have her seeing the titular clown drown one of her friends, while she's having a picnic with him. So, is Rachel imagining the said attack? Yes. Is the imagined clown the same clown that kills her friends later? Yes. What does this mean? It's a hunch, but it could mean that the clown is the figment of her imagination, and she's killing everyone. The so called twist sure made this even clearer, but seriously? Did the guys who made the movie thought we can't figure this out?

Personally, this took a large toll on my viewing pleasure. Not only is the pacing of the movie sluggish, even for a one hour running time, but there's hardly anything worth seeing here other than the clown attacks and the unusual "side-burned dick" joke. I maybe had seen too many slasher films that I'm now too familiar with them, but the producers know they're limit and they're humble enough to tell us that they're trying something different with the genre, but it's nowhere a perfect work, honestly, so I'm giving it a few points for effort.

While some of lighting is crap, the camera work is just fine, same goes to the gore effects. The casts looked too amateurish, but they did deliver their lines with a fair style. I'm also gonna put some highlights on the killer clown this movie had; silent, creepy, yet deadly, the Clown's only annoying trait is that it constantly shakes his head every time he kills. What is that? a gesture? Or a case of Turret Syndrome?

I respect a good effort, but they could had tried to put more thought into this script. It's there, a fine entry to the growing number of indie slasher films, but a few missed shots had only made this film a standard work. if you love things all weird, independently made and, well, short, i guess you could try this. Those who truly enjoy their slashers can catch a glimpsed of this, too, but personally you could do better.

1 female garroted with rope
1 male sign post to the back, neck chopped with machete
1 male brained to death with rock
1 male knifed to death
1 male fork to the ear
1 male hacked to death with axe
total: 6

Slasher masks of the week vol 14

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

here's this week's meat:

Nail Gun Massacre- Okay, okay, looking pass the Darth Vader voice, the get-up is quite nice. A little uneven in stature, but it works. it works...(Sssss...oh, this awkwardness is killing me...)

Camping Del Terrore/Bodycount- A cool looking old-guy mask and a cloak works nice for this guy. If only the movie he was on was more...fleshy, if you  catch my drift.

My Super Psycho Sweet 16- Though the name's a bit off, Lord of The Rink may be the only slasher out there who got the knight get-up just right.

Cut (2000)- The killer in Cut dons this groovy looking skull mask. Slick and simple, I love it! It also looks like one of the masks I made for Halloween a few years back!

City of Blood- A rare African slasher, a unique mask. I hadn't seen this movie yet, but that mask is really something!

"Fix Her, Doc!": Midnight Ride (1990)

Midnight Ride (1990)
Starring: Michael Dudikoff, Mark Hamill and Savina Gersak

At one California night, housewife Lara leaves her workaholic (and currently handicapped) policeman husband Lawson as she sees their marriage's going nowhere. As she drove through the barren roads, Lara meets Justin, an eccentric hitchhiker with a personality of a little boy and the two nearly got themselves killed when Lawson catches up and chases them into crashing their car. 

Miraculously unscathe, the two makes their way to a nearby gas stop where Lara calls her sister to pick them up while Justin goes to confront the place's rude manager, returning later with a plucked out eyeball as, it turns out, Justin's an insane psychopath giddy with the thought of murder. Worse for Lara is that she's his new plaything and with a knife pointed to her neck, she's about to experience the longest midnight ride of her life...

An overlooked worthy attempt of a hybrid, Midnight Ride rings a plot similar to The Hitcher with added cops-and-robbers antics and a really cool villain; while it may lack any credible story or any believable character as everything here's tailor-made for thin scripts and disposable casts, the fast-paced direction and action scenes kept the story going as a brainless fun fright flick.

 A fine example of this includes a part when Justin and Lawson meet, not knowing of each other's connection to Lara, ending in a gut-wrenching murder attempt involving Justin tying up the cop on the hood of a car and proceeds to slam it repeatedly into the rear end of a gas tanker. How the gas tanker fail to notice what's happening behind his truck may never have the chance to be explained, but it's intense for the sake of intensity and the movie energetically embraces it.

Slasher fans would probably get their kicks from this one as it features one nasty lead villain played by none other than Star War's Luke Skywalker actor Mark Hamill, as a creepy immature hitch hiker doing rather bloody good murders and, keeping in nature of the film's action hybrid, some decent car stunts. In fact, the climax also features a lively grapple that is more in vein of the rock and sock brawl-out that almost every action film had done, this one taking place in a hospital which apparently (and hilariously) hardly matters since none of the orderlies save a hostaged doctor seem to notice.

There's a hint of creepiness in some sequences thanks to some atmospheric lighting but the film's ridiculously over-the-top set-pieces worked over it, which may or may not be a bad thing depending on how you like your action-slasher hybrids. It could have done something more menacing for a slasher movie though, seeing there was a possibility of having two possible threats (the husband and the psycho) working their way into the plot, but with the sudden change of direction from slasher horror to action thriller and Lawson turning into a hero by the second act, the finished product is undoubtedly running a little behind as a scary "serious" movie but it's still a watchable effort.

If you are lucky enough to catch obscure high octane fright flick, you can take my word; this is mindless popcorn movie that's big on cheesy taste and gut-punching fun!

1 female had her eyes gouged out
1 female gets a throat cut with a switchblade
3 females immolated by incoming car
1 male killed, clothes seen
1 male found stabbed on the neck with a gun's nozzle (!)
1 male killed in car collision
1 male shot
1 male stabbed on the gut with switchblade
2 males decimated in gas explosion
1 male seen shot in the head
1 male shot on the head
Total: 14

Saturday, February 25, 2012

If I die before I wake...: The Sleeper (2012)

The Sleeper (2012)
starring:  Brittany Belland, Tiffany Arnold and Riana Ballo

Who is this Justin Russell? So far I only saw two films under his name and I'm already impressed of his "grindhouse" movies! While his Death Stop Holocaust is a steady paced,70s horror-inspired thriller, his new "hit", The Sleeper, is a full-blown 80s slasher tribute!

Opening in 1979, a girl in the Alpha Gamma Theta sorority house was preparing for a goodnight sleep while unknowingly being watched by a gloved figure. As soon as she snuggles into her bed, said figure smashed her face in with a hammer.

Two years later, new pledges are taken in including one Amy who just moved in campus; while a little skeptical at first, the girls soon warms up to the sorority as they partied their nights away! (Watch out for the groovy  disco scene that caught me dancing to the beat. Yes, I'm an old fashioned guy, so sue me!)

It's supposed to be all fun and games if it wasn't for the creeper caller that kept phoning the house, a milky-eyed giggling psycho of the title who enjoys making obscenities and the occasional death threats; first dismissed as a tasteless prank-call from one of the girl's boyfriends, the Sleeper soon starts picking off the girls one by one, keeping track of his kills by crossing out photos with a red lipstick. When the boyfriend of one of the girls starts to worry about his gal's sudden disappearance, he phones a local detective for help. But can the police find the Sleeper in time before he gets everyone? It's 1981 and the cold snow is forever. Get ready for a bloody night you will all remember...

Everything from the gritty picture quality to the 80s influenced scripting, The Sleeper took Black Christmas and Prom Night inspired situations and hand-tailored a slasher film that almost befits the year it's supposed to be in. Technically, it's one hammer murder to the next with a steady pacing to keep the story flowing with enough characters and filler situations to keep it from having a dull moment.

Other than that, there's nothing really new here; if you know your slashers, you can expect a lot coming from this only, unlike many who attempted the same throw, The Sleeper did it all in two weeks in around a budget of a few ten thousand dollars. Yes, that's a minuscule budget put to a creative use recapturing the Golden years of this fair and complicated sub-genre.

While at times you can tell the low budget from some scenes including a few questionable practical effects (a fake head is obviously a fake head in one decapitation scene), it's still a surprise that the technical elements of the film is well handled from some great lighting, synthesizer scores that screams retro, and not a hint of CG anywhere! Gore quality ranges from faces bashed in or ripped off, throats ripped open, and enough of hammer bludgeoning to keep fans happy. The best part about this is that it gets better with each murder. Though I still wonder how a hammer claw can slit a throat but it happened, staying true to the logic-defying halcyon days of 80s slasher cinema.

With that, any other highlights would be on the obscure killer this film featured. The Sleeper wasn't really fleshed out much; he's there and he's killing people for the sake of putting them "to sleep" (forever), and nothing really backs up his purpose. He's like Billy from the original Black Christmas or even Micheal Myers on the first Halloween movie, using phone calls and heavy breathing to toy around with the girls, and being a "faceless" random loon who somehow evaded capture for a long time. Sadly, I can't really say much for the rest of the cast; in my view they're your standard 80s victims minus a few stupidity and is almost natural in reaction. Though that didn't stop some of them to just sit and scream as a killer hammer down a door. There's always THAT victim.

So, with all that, we finally have our next "Ti West"; just as West got the 70s exploitation in pitch-perfectly recaptured with his House of The Devil, Russell's 80s inspired slasher flick is enough to tell me this guy has a future in horror. If he could do all of this in a measly ten or thirty grand, what more if he could bag some bigger cash? For now, I can safely recommend this awesome slasher, especially for those who got a knack for the good old days.

1 female killed with hammer (offscreen)
1 female had her face smashed in with hammer
1 female had a portion of her face got ripped off
1 female gets a hammer claw to the eye
1 male strangled with rope
1 female decapitated with axe
1 male bludgeoned to death with hammer
1 female killed offscreen
1 male gets a throat cut with hammer claw (!)
1 male glimpsed hammered on the head
1 female knifed on the ear
1 male killed offscreen
1 female found with her eyes beaten in
1 female found with a hammer wound on her forehead
total: 14