Monday, March 18, 2013

Sin City Sinners Slashed: Leprechaun 3 (1995)

Leprechaun 3 (1995)
rating: ***1/2
starring: Warwick Davis, John Gatins, Lee Armstrong

Lights, tits, and gambling. Whether you like it or not, Vegas is here to stay and all them greedy big wigs will be crawling all over it. So why not let some psycho go loose and kill them all? They deserved it at some point, right?

Well, very few slasher flicks seem to agree (and I mean very few), but most of them are garbage. (Still couldn't get over with The Las Vegas Killer (1987). I'm telling you guys, don't waste a minute on that joke of a movie!) So comparing this yet another entry to the cheesy horror franchise known as Leprechaun to the other Sin City Slashers, it's a Godsend for many arguably good reasons.

In what seems to be another "reboot-sequel", the Leprechaun this time have been turned into stone and was to remain like that so long as an enchanted iron medallion worn around his neck will not be removed. For some reason, he's under the possession of a scruffy guy who's willing to sell him for twenty bucks at a pawn shop in Las Vegas, but not before warning the shop owner of the medallion.

Curiosity gets the better of the owner. Medallion gets removed. Leprechaun returns. Hurrah!

All the while, we got young Scott on his way to college and decided to be the good Samaritan of a lovely gal named Tammy, stranded on the road. Escorting her to the Lucky Shamrock, the casino she works in as a magician's assistant, Scott got entranced and tempted with all the gambling but sadly, he has a nasty streak in terms of luck and gambled all of his tuition and housing money. (Heartily earned by his parents no less. What a jerk!)

Hoping to try again, he decided to sell his father's golden watch for some cash to the exact same pawnshop across the street where the Leprechaun is on the loose. Scott then finds, other than the dead owner on the floor, one of the Leprechaun's gold coins which can grant one wish from the holder. (based on a low-budget animation playing ala computer, no less!) He nonchalantly wished for a winning streak after hearing this and to his surprised, finds his wish suddenly came true as he's zapped back to the casino and winning chips like there's no tomorrow!

Generally not happy about this, the Leprechaun sets his laderhosen into hunting down the fool who has his gold, which proves to be easier said than done as many of the casino's owners and patrons found out about the coin's magic and has stolen it to grant their wish. One greedy shmuck at a time, wishes are granted and then twisted as the Leprechaun kills off those who uses his gold. And when a hot magician's assistant is threatened, it's up to Scott to save the day! So long as he can keep his focus away from the craps...

Just like the first Leprechaun sequel, Leprechaun 3 is a stand-alone entry that completely disregards the events of the first two films. Some mythos are obscured, while others re-tooled; in here, we're educated that each of the hundred pieces of shilling in the Leprechaun's pot can grant one wish and is also the source of the Leprechaun's power. There's also a weird subplot involving a Leprechaun's bite and blood as a concoction that can turn a victim into a Leprechaun himself. With these many rule changes, it's best to try and forget what we all learned from the first two films and just run this as a fresh start, which is actually a good thing as the title certainly can stand on its own plot and is generally a fun one at that.

Apart with some pretty good plot points, Leprechaun 3 finally sinks its teeth with some gooey gore and hefty laughs. Well, the laughs could still use some work, but the kills are really satisfactory. Nothing above the first two but, compared, it's wittier and devilishly sly as it took the old Wishmaster route and each victim's death is somewhat ironic to what the victims asked for. The best ones being that of a lady's longing for a younger bussoms and a pathetic magician's plea for better illusions.

The casts is a weird gallery, to be frank; the characters, as paper slice thin as they are, they're funny and pathetic enough to bring you a wry grin now and then. John Gatins plays our lead hero Scott, whose redeeming factor is that despite being tempted into greed, he still learns his lesson in the end and regrets his action, but not before being turned into a humorously bad Leprechaun-Human hybrid who spats out rhymes and gives kisses of death. Ironically, he was more rootable as a freak than a greedy human. We also got the sexy yet morally well-meant stage assistant Tammy, played by Lee Armstrong, who spends most of her time in a showgirl's suit and comforting a guy she just met hours ago. And then there's the hilariously bad (intentional or not) John DeMita playing Flavio the magician, whose cheap and desperate tricks, and arguably have the best death in the movie is enough to raise a positive rating for a satisfied fan. Warwick Davis is, well, still cool as the wretched Leprechaun, but his antics works a little better here since it goes along well with the setting. Wanna see the little guy have fun with Elvis? Only here, baby~!

The series' best entry in every aspect, from gore to giggles, Leprechaun 3 openly welcomes every cheese-heads out there for one night of blood stained chips, hash brown munching and Leprechaun dung madness. Don't know what happened with the first two? No worries, mate! Continuity isn't this series' sharpest knife (nor is logic), so turn off lights, microwave that pizza roll and prepare to laugh, grin and scream!

1 male strangled with phone chord
1 male electrocuted with robot
1 male beaten to death with shillelagh
1 male had an eye plucked out, beaten to death with shillelagh
1 female inflated and explodes
1 male found stabbed to death with medical tools
1 male sliced in half with chainsaw
total: 7

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Burpday, Wedding Day: Leprechaun 2 (1994)

Leprechaun 2 (1994)
rating: **1/2
starring:  Warwick Davis, Charlie Heath, Shevonne Durkin

Mugging a homeless guy.
A proof that this entry had gone a little low
After being a minor hit in the theaters, the rambunctious tiny terror known as Leprechaun stepped into the franchising business a year later.

Giving some thought into this, you could assume that the production was rushed and would likely end up a cheesy woozit that anybody can laugh at with some boozed-up buddies. Then again, didn't the first Leprechaun was?

Once upon a time, during one St. Patrick's Day in the middle ages, an evil Leprechaun caught one of his slaves escaping. But as a sign of goodwill since that day was his birthday too, the Leprechaun decided to let the man live and tag him along with his evil plan to force one fair maiden into being his bride by making her sneeze three times. But as it turns out, said "fair maiden" is the slave's own daughter, thus forcing the man to betray his master and got himself killed in the process. All's not lost for the murderous dwarf as he plans to patiently wait for the next 1000 years to come back and try again. Why? Cuz he can. Let's leave just it at that.

What favor can i grant you, here,
the day of my daughter's wedding?
So 1000 years later turned out to be 1994, and the Leprechaun returns on St. Patrick's Day to steal himself a wife, this time setting his eyes on one Bridget, a young and patient lover of this entry's hero, a horror-tour guide named Cody. As the little guy began to magically kill his way through the competition, Cody has no choice but to stop the leprechaun from entrapping his girl to a life-time of being the wife of a guy who's half their size and spat out bad one-liners! (Oh, and is homicidal. Let's not forget that part!)

But how can he when every cop is out there looking for him as he is suspected of murdering those that the Lep had killed?

Still following the traditions of a badly directed corn-puff of a movie, Leprechaun 2 is hardly a sequel that improved. In fact, I believe it's better to see this movie as a reboot of the original as it hardly mentioned the previous film and none of the mythologies from that film seems to exist here save for the Leprechaun's taste for gold. (He seems to be more fond of the shiny stuff as he'll take it from anywhere or anyone) It's all in the same level of the first, a hammy B-flick that aims to be entertain through dark humor and a doubled bodycount.

He was gluttonous as he was greedy!
Script-wise, we got some very standard (otherwise disposable) cast and characters. Charlie Heath as Cody and Shevonne Durkin as Bridget, as much as we would like to have them survive this ordeal, it all got to some point where we hardly care if they win or not since they're so flat and uninteresting. Warwick Davis is still a devilish fun cast behind the latex, which is understandable since he is the main critter in this movie, a Godsend compared to the two thin leads we got here. He's still the big scene-stealer who's giddy to murder anyone who steps in the way, interestingly more magic oriented here with deaths by go-carts from hell and deadly illusions. You would actually expect this entry to be bloodier than the first as most sequel would, but it's quite limited with the gore, showing off simple blood splatters and cut-aways, something I had to knock off half a rating for from a possible three star. (I wasn't lying when I said it's as good as the original)
He likes it slooow~
It's not anything that could wow you into accepting the Leprechaun series as an improving horror film franchise, but as far as entertainment could go, Leprechaun 2 still hits some marks so I wouldn't say it's all for nothing. Best recommended for lovers of silly B-flicks and little men in lederhosens!

1 male elevated strangling, neck broken
1 male had his face shredded through lawnmower
1 male steamed to death
1 male had his gut magically filled with gold, disemboweled
1 male ran over with go-cart
total: 5

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Blood Runs Cold Again: Cold Prey 2 (2008)

Cold Prey 2 (Fritt Vilt II) (2008)
Rating: ****1/2
Starring:  Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Marthe Snorresdotter Rovik, Kim Wifladt

I'm just surprised they didn't arrest her for
possession of a murder weapon! What nice guys~
Remember how Carpenter revisited his slasher classic Halloween (1978) with a sequel taking place in a near-barren hospital? Remember how good Halloween II (1981) was with all them dark corridors and tons of medical equipment begging to be perverted into murder weapons? Now, remember all those that tried to copy the same plot point: psycho loose in a hospital, bent on murdering the wounded and the sick, either for kicks or to lure out his primary target. True, many tried and failed to follow the same pursuit, but there were some that have been welcomed to the growing slasher family. Titles like X-Ray (1982) (or Hospital Massacre) or the cult fave Visiting Hours have been passed around and recommended to one slasher fan to the next, but now let's look to another imitator, also a follow-up to a hit, but with with an accomplishment that many sequels rarely done: it improves.

Starting off a few moments where the first film left off, a police cruiser nearly hits the lone survivor of a horrendous massacre while investigating an empty car left in the snowbanks. The survivor, Jannicke, later collapsed from exhaustion and is taken to a nearby hospital where she's treated and interrogated by the responding authorities. After telling her accounts of what happened that night, the cops venture into the cabin where the murders took place and, sure enough, find the bodies of her friends. And of their killer.

I dunno what's worse: surviving all this over again,
or sleeping in this tacky bed?
Still haunted by the events that night, Jannicke tries to attack the killer's corpse out of sheer hate when she's taken to the hospital's morgue to identify the bodies. (And this is gonna help her get over the trauma how?) Things go for the worse when, aside from being restrained to her own bed, she finds out that the killer somehow survived being hacked on the chest with a pickaxe (and falling to his death), convulsing into one dramatic resurrection and is now silently killing off those who unwittingly brought him back to the living (It's the slasher way of saying thank you, after all!), forcing Jannicke, the staff and patients to defend themselves against an unstoppable killing machine.

I agreed to work overtime, and this is what I get...
What makes Cold Prey 2 a better movie comparing to its original is that it answered a lot for what lacked in its predecessor. Whilst the first Cold Prey movie is an impressive atmospheric take on the basic slasher skeleton, obediently following every trappings known in the sub-genre without the need of parodying it while adding a few personal touches to it, the actual murders itself is far from impressive as it lacks the needed impact due to the film's inability to adjust its pacing to befit the violence. The sequel, on the other hand, have gone to a more action-oriented pace, molding a surprisingly great number of impressive scenes involving high tension stalking and bloodier (if not more creative) kills without being muddled away from unnecessarily prolonged character developments. True, the cast did make a great set of characters you get to care for, but the script and direction thankfully decided not to focus too much on building these group to the point of overcooking.

You may need to squint, but he's looking at you, kid!
What really impressed me the most with Cold Prey 2 is Ingrid Bolsø Berdal's character Jannicke's likable transformation from a survivor to a strong-willed avenger. She's like when Laurie Strode from Halloween H20, who, after some time living under the trauma she's suffering from, decides to fight back and finish off the main monster that ruined her life; only here, Jannicke tries to level with those who disbelieves her and didn't spent much of her time sulking. (She did for some time, just more bearable.) Aside from her, as of any slasher films out there, the main star of the movie is still the killer. Nothing much changed from him since the last film, though now he somehow acquired the ability to regenerate himself, something that they try to keep realistic but, seeing this is a slasher flick, it's best not to try.

Can't actually tell where the film falls flat seeing it actually played the game straight on as if it hitched and drove the slasher rules right into every track. I may say that those who're not aware of what happened in the original might get a little lost to everything that is happening here, but I find this sequel standing strongly enough on its own that watching the first movie isn't really that necessarily to catch up.

Eitherways, completist and hardcore slasher fans will surely love this labor of improvement. Cold Prey 2 closes the saga quite early (and tried to do a full circle by making its third and final entry a prequel), but it did it with a bang (literally) the most fun than what most sequels can offer.

See? Why not do this to Michael Myers when he's down?
Save them a lot of trouble...
1 male had his throat cut with scalpels
1 female bashed to death with fire extinguisher
1 male had his neck snapped to the back
1 male snared, pickaxed offscreen
1 male had an arm lopped off, pickaxed
1 male gets a pickaxe through the head
1 male bled to death from pickaxe wound
1 male gets a pickaxe through the chest, shot on the face with shotgun
Total: 8

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Hotdog Bulletproof Vests: White of The Eye (1987)

White of the Eye (1987)
Rating: ***1/2
Starring:  David Keith, Cathy Moriarty, Alan Rosenberg

Somewhat slasher-esque in some perspective, White of the Eye takes the sensibilities of a pre-90s drama thriller with elements from a pure breed slasher film in one bizarre tale of a love, death and high-pitched sounds.

In Arizona, rich women are being killed off in their homes by a gloved psychopath, leaving little clues save the savagery of the attacks. One of the individuals suspected responsible is Paul White (David Keith from the original Firestarter (1984)), a Hi-Fi system installer frequently hired for his unique skill to emit a high-pitch noise that helps him see the best spots in his client's houses to install his audio systems. He was seen with one of the victims prior and, as it turns out, White has a history of violent tendencies, but his wife Joan (Cathy Moriarty from the black comedy Neighbors (1981)) insists to the authorities that Paul had nothing to do with the murder.

Things escalates further when Joan meet with her ex-boyfriend Mike DeSantos (Alan Rosenberg of the TV series Chicago Hope fame) who's happy to see her again but fears for her safety, hinting he knew something about White that Joan doesn't know. All the while, Paul develops a habit of cheating on his wife, an act that Joan quickly found out, forcing her to try and frame the recent murders to her husband as revenge. But when the truth began to twist further and lives are continued to be taken, it soon leads to a vicious fight for survival for those who are truly innocent as well as for those who are sick in the head.

White of the Eye is a stylish study between the coexistence of with ranging psychotic tendencies. With themes like paranoia, madness and perspectives, it's easy to see that the movie is another Western take on the 70s Italian Gialli sub-genre, beginning with a very stylized murder where the brutality of the violence was heavily implied with slo-mo sequences of broken glass, non-blood red liquids being spilled and cuts of imagery symbolizing struggle. (such as a fish out of water, dying)

After this, White of the Eye then slows down to focus more on its characters, though it's a tough say if one can take the casts seriously as they can be laughable to watch, strangle fitting with the tone of the entire movie however. This is actually where the hard parts come in; albeit the fact that the movie has a very sullen and serious tone to it, White of the Eye has it's moments where it shifts mood from serious to downright unsettling and strange, walking in a fractured timeline as we venture back and forth into the past and then back to the present, as if the movie tries to stay true with the idea of character perceptions and tries to put us into the place of the killer, or at least to those who were struggling to understand them.

I like to see this film as a one of those "thinking man's horror", where it raises some questions for you to answer and figure out, but it answers very little, and for those who're looking for a fun, brainless thriller, they might not just get it at all. Then again, the seemingly random quirks and ideas we have around the killer and the plot itself might as well be this film's own way of getting into our skin. The less we understand the movie, the more it is unnaturally creepy for the common people, despite, ironically, the actual story of the movie is really easy to understand in paper, nothing more than about a coping serial killer beginning to lose his mind.

As White of the Eye's primary focuses are tone and creepiness, body-counters will be solely disappointed by this movie's low death count. But patient slasher enthusiasts will definitely find the worthwhile murders and the film's climax to be at least inventive and tributes enough to the hack-and-slash genre. With this being said, I can't be sure if a movie's worth recommending if its direction is as muddled and confusing as this title, but White of The Eye is enough of an attention grabber for those yearning for something entirely different (and challenging), and rare enough for an avid collector not to resist. Dare to try, if you can find it...
1 female had her head bashed through a microwave
1 female drowned in bathtub
1 dog shot with automatic rifle
1 male shot on the face with automatic rifle
1 male decimated with dynamite
total: 5

Monday, March 11, 2013

Those Crazy Spaniard Kids: Who Can Kill a Child (1976) and Come Out and Play (2012) Double Bill Review

Who Can Kill a Child?/¿Quién puede matar a un niño? (Spain, 1976) (AKA "Island of the Damned", "Death is Child's Play", "The Hex Massacre", "The Killer's Playground", "Trapped", "Would You Kill a Child?")
Rating: ***
Starring:  Lewis Fiander, Prunella Ransome, Antonio Iranzo

I may have been expecting a lot from this, but I honestly find Who Can Kill A Child? as a workable yet unnecessarily draggy chiller where all the violence happened off-camera, the villains are anomalously freaky, and gripping tension is all that matters. I guess, being someone who have seen all Children of the Corn movies, it's kinda hard to break a mindset that every "killer child" movie has to be at least modeled after slasher movies (Except, of course the original Bad Seed and The Omen. Those are special exceptions for me), so some elements of this film didn't work out for me.

They might reconsider having kids in the end.
If they survive...
In here, an English couple is touring an isolated island over the Southern Spanish coast, only to find the place completely barren of adults and littered with grinning children. After looking around, it soon becomes clear to them that the children have murdered all the of the adults, leaving the couple trapped and forced to fight for their lives.

As to why the children are doing this or what is causes them to commit murder, this was hardly explained. Instead, it's hinted at some scenes that a strange supernatural phenomenon or infection may be to blame, and the adults are left defenseless from all this since their morals and ethics are holding them back from hitting a or their child, which, honestly, is bullshit on my part (I mean, are they telling me not one or two adults in there thought  "Oh, so that's why Beware! Children at Play! ended like that!" and just fought back and at least disable the kids?) This enabled the killer kids to take advantage and pick them all off overnight, a fact that kinda killed off some credibility to this movie.

And then there is the point that the film felt like it takes forever before anything happens. I know this is for the psychological tension, but it's kinda hard to feel scared watching a movie if we spent around 45 minutes or more with the couple just looking around empty streets for someone to show up. And by the time the couple finally knows what's wrong with the children, the stalk-and-chase antics can get a bit tiring as it provide very little shock for a movie with a near two hour running time! I might be bias with this one, but for me, if you want a psychological-survival film to work, you got to provide us something that will utterly unnerve us other than long intense scene. (One scene, for example, had a pregnant woman attacked by her own unborn baby that somehow succumbs to the sickness affecting the children. The idea is sick and interesting, but it's hardly bloody and all she did there was moan and wince.)

If there is anything good to come out of this film, it would be that actors were great since all the focus was on two primary characters as any other were bumped off as soon as they're introduced. The tone of the movie is also consistent, so it's not really a bad film to begin with so to speak and I could have honestly enjoyed it as a B-flick creeper thanks to its dreary atmosphere. The kill count is high and the movie's bleak resolution had us hinting of a possible apocalypse involving evil kids, an idea that I find creepy so that's another point up.

I know around the time this movie was released, killer kids may have been considered shocking, but for our standards today, we've seen worse brats with blood on their hands. As a whole, Who Can Kill A Child? is a fair low-brow horror flick for those who loves a good mind-fuck, survivalist drama or homicidal children.
1 female found dead underwater
1 female seen murdered
1 elderly male bludgeoned to death with cane
1 male found with head wound
1 female found murdered
1 female found dead
1 male murdered, method not sen
1 male found dead
1 female presumably killed
1 male found with head wound
1 boy shot with rifle
1 pregnant female killed from the inside by her own unborn baby
A number of children shot with rifle
1 boy beaten with boat paddle
1 boy hit on the eye with boat paddle
1 boy hit on the face with boat paddle
1 boy hit on the face with boat paddle
1 boy hit on the face with boat paddle
1 male shot with rifle
1 male shot with rifle
2 males presumably killed
total: 21+

Come Out and Play/ Juego de niños (Mexico, 2012)
starring: Daniel Giménez Cacho, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Vinessa Shaw

Almost 40 years have passed since the little cult fave Who Can Kill a Child terrorized audiences with uncomfortable silence and isolated backdrop. Now, some guy who calls himself Makinov figured it's high time to potentially update this little known title for the modern audience for a possible reboot. A decision that I find necessary for this title.

Unfortunately, it is as if they were afraid to mess it up, the film (uncomfortably re-titled "Come Out and Play") is nothing more than a shot-by-shot remake of the original with blood and gore. The story still revolves around an English couple visiting a South Spanish island, finding it's entire adult inhabitants have been murdered by their own children who are succumbing to a strange supernatural infection, thus turning the couple's supposed holiday tour to a fight for survival that they may not win. So with that in mind, the movie failed to make any impact on its own, unless yer not familiar with the original.
Different Generation. Same beard.
There's also a matter of the scripting and character; back then, the two lead's character might have been credible and effective, as too the movie's scripting, but in today's society, there's just something quite off about a couple not realizing the strangeness of a near-empty town with only children running around. They could at least notice that, but no. They actually put the blame on last night's Carnivale partying for an entire town's disappearance, seeing the possibility that everyone's just drunk asleep.

Yeah right, and I'm the King and Queen of Cheese...

The only thing that changed here, and I believe is for the better, is that Come Out and Play delivers the story as soon as possible and the film finally have the gore the original should have provided, in a rather quite satisfactory way if I may say so myself. (though most occurred offscreen) While Who Can Kill a Child? is a practice on fright without the use of blood and bodies, Come Out and Play showcased a bloodier set of murders including an elderly male being stabbed to death, corpses being mutilated further and a messier murder of a pregnant woman, something to at least keep up with the time in terms of shock value.

The hopeless tone of the original coinciding with this remake's blood-work somehow brought the same sense of dread and unnerving tension with all the mayhem the children are creating, just as it did on the original. Some people might call it a lack of imagination, some might call it keeping the torch burning, I for one call it living the phrase "If it ain't broken, don't fix it (too much)".

If you know little of the original 70s creeper, then this movie might just work out for you. Fans, however, of the original will be sorely disappointed on this carbon copy of a movie. (It's Psycho '98 all over again...) Still, so long as they're finally showing the bodies for me, that's all I need to keep me watching this survival thriller. Sometimes it's best not to expect too much...

1 female glimpsed murdered
1 elderly male repeatedly knifed, head crushed with a dropped rock
1 male found with missing eye
1 female found with throat cut
1 female murdered offcamera
1 female found disemboweled
1 male beaten to death
1 male found murdered
1 boy shot with rifle
1 body seen being dismembered with hacksaw
1 male seen disemboweled
1 male head seen
1 pregnant female killed from the inside by her own unborn baby
A number of children shot dead with rifle
1 boy hit on the head with boat paddle
1 boy hit on the head with boat paddle
1 boy face crushed with boat paddle
1 girl face crushed with boat paddle
1 male shot dead with rifle
1 male shot dead with rifle
total: 19+

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Death Comes Torturous: Final Destination 3 (2006)

Final Destination 3 (2006) (AKA Cheating Death: Final Destination 3)
Rating: ***
Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ryan Merriman, Kris Lemche

Gore, gore, and more gore; when movies like SAW, Hostel and The Devil's Rejects introduced long and torturous overkills, bighead business types probably wanted to cash-in to these movies' successes by putting the splatter back in horror and thriller cinema. Thus, the once clever and intense dead teenager series Final Destination steps its game up for its third inning to cater a new wave of gore-hungry audience, even if it meant re-telling the same plot all over again.

This time around, we join highschooler Wendy and her friends at a local fair as they celebrate their last days in McKinley High before graduating. What should have been a fun night for everyone in her year, tragedy decided to rear its ugly head when a roller-coaster accident takes the lives of some of the school's students, though there should have been more victims in the count.

Wendy, you see, had a premonition of the upcoming disaster minutes before it started, thus she ends up saving some of them, something she's not too thrilled about as it costs her a loving boyfriend and a good friend, which leads to one hell of a survivor's guilt. It will, however, go for worse when one by one, the should-be coaster casualties start dropping like flies in one fatal accident to the next, all in the order they were supposed to die in the accident. Now aware of her predicament, Wendy has no choice but to figure out the pattern and clues to stop an inevitable force hunting them down or she might end up next on Death's list.

Final Destination 3, as far as I can tell, could have been a rather dull entry to the series as it retreads the same plot that backbones the first two films, a concept we all by now can probably figure out on our own. Nevertheless, the fun of these Final Destination films is less about who will die next and more on how, and how here is answered with loads of stage blood and shredded latex, by far the only winning factor to this entry.

Tanning Bed. A cheerleader's Bestfriend turned enemy!

In comparison, the first two Final Destination movies can be seen as teen thriller-cum-supernatural slashers with some metaphysical themes while Final Destination 3 is more of the splatter-filled 80s teen slashers, throwing off factors like proper character build and plot development in favor of off-the-wall kills, paint-by-number cliches and stereotypes. Not any of that is a bad thing honestly, but it kinda stepped this entry down a lot from the imaginative dead-teenager flick that started it all and puts Final Destination 3 into a commercialized kill-a-thon roller-coaster ride. (Pun intended) With that, while still maintaining a level of build and tension the first two movie have, Final Destination 3 focuses more on the impact of these kills, molding around the idea of overkill. Indeed, the deaths in this entry come in rather torturous and/or overdone as the mutilated gets dismembered further and splattered beyond recognition, done gloriously in traditional practical effects with some CG enhancements in full onscreen.

So, being a refresher to the already familiar flow, Final Destination 3 is still a lost to those who are hoping for a smarter or, at least, a more creative entry to the series but that didn't stop this entry from being fun. By now, you would be expecting the story could at least explain a little bit further on how Death works in these movies as they have in the first two, but the plot instead produced a re-hash of the first movie with the tragic disaster minimalized into a tragic "accident" (there's a difference), interestingly leading this movie the only one in the series where the authorities are completely absent thus focusing completely on the teenagers as lamb for the slaughter. It's sadistic, yes, but it was made for a specific kinds of audience and at some point, the pattern still works and the nihilistic undertone of the movie (especially the ending) kinda helps maintain the tone.

They always claim that third time's the charm but I guess that isn't applicable for all, though Final Destination 3 does try its best. Gorno-addicts and enthusiasts might find a worthwhile time through this one, as too those who're willing to trade out smarts for bloody parts. It could have been worse, and I mean really worse -*COUGH*THEFINALDESTINATION! - so let's just thank the invisible forces for these small mercies, and hopefully this series can continue a stable footing.

7 riders mangled in roller-coaster accident
2 females incinerated in malfunctioning tanning beds
1 male had his head shredded by a truck engine fan
1 male had weights crushed his head
1 female gets nailgunned on the head
1 female impaled by a broken flag pole
1 male crushed by a falling cherry picker
1 female crushed by a dislodge train wheel
1 male filleted in between the train and tunnel wall
1 male and 1 female mangled in train derailment
10 passengers mangled in train derailment
1 female ran over by an incoming train
Total: 29

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Frozen Fears. You'll get it: Iced (1988)

Iced (AKA "Blizzard of Blood") (1988)
Rating: *1/2
Starring: Debra De Liso, Doug Stevenson, Ron Kologie

Some time ago, a group of young hot-blooded teens was staying at a skiing lodge when one of their least likable buddy ended up skiing to his death after he found out the girl of his dreams isn't into him at all. To be frank, with the way he was acting prior to his death, I couldn't imagine anybody being into him. Ever. 

Now fast-forward four years later, the teens (now young adults) get invited back to the same skiing lodge by mysterious host. With little to do, the group decided to catch-up with one another, rekindle relationships or simply just have fun. But little do they realize, someone wearing a blue jumpsuit and broken orange goggles is out to get them, taking his time to study his victims as nothing much happened around the next 30 to 40 minutes in this movie other than talk, drug and fuck. Least he's clever enough to know his targets but what does that do for us? 

About an hour later of talking, cooking and other casual stuffs, the killer finally begins his (tame) murder spree, following it with the cliched final girl chase scene that leads up to a reveal that barely rocked anything and a Carrie-inspired shock ending involving another fast-forwarding into the future (five years this time) and a bleeding snowman. 

Frankly, Iced failed to be anything but a run-in-the-mill slasher. The movie is paced steadily as a snail, light on the gore and cheesed up to the extent that anything the cast says sounds a ridiculous. The picture quality and camera work is good and all (Look at that visor POV shot! lol), but with all these flaws, I find it hard in my part to enjoy this movie. If it wasn't for my fast-forward button, I would had dozed off with all that talk and waiting for that murderous skier to strike. (I'm pretty sure I didn't miss much from all those skipped scenes. They all look the same. )

Iced garnished some sort of cult following for some odd duck of a reason (Must have been the hammy plotting), but when it comes to snow-based slasher movies, I think I'm more inclined to enjoy one in the likes Shredder, Cold Prey or even Ghostkeeper. I'm leaving this for the world to judge...

1 male skis off a cliff and lands on rocks
1 male ran over by snow plough
1 male gets a ski stick through the neck
1 female stabbed on the eye with icicle
1 female electrocuted on hot tub via dunked live radio
1 male caught on bear traps, killed
1 male stabbed on the chest with kitchen knife
Total: 7

Blood Runs Cold: Cold Prey (2006)

Cold Prey (Fritt Vilt) (Norway, 2006)
rating: ***1/2
starring:  Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Rolf Kristian Larsen, Tomas Alf Larsen

Was there a good reason to call this movie a perfect example of a slasher film done right? Was the movie's simplistic plotting enough to elevate any fans of the sub-genre into accepting it? Was the victim count of possible five enough to create a satisfactory bodycount?

We open with a boy bearing an unusual birthmark being chased on the snow by someone. The boy then slips off a cliff and got stuck on the bottom, wherein his chaser buries him alive as they kicked out more snow at him.

Skipping ahead years later, five backpackers on a winter trip visit some snowy mountains to board until the sun sets. Everything was going according to their plans until an accident got one of them crippled. Threatened by an incoming snowstorm, the group had no choice but to walk back on foot, carrying their injured friend, until they find a spot where they can be safe. Luckily for these kids, they managed to spot an abandoned hotel at the middle of the mountains by nightfall, apparently the home of the chased boy in the opening.

With beds to sleep in, a stocked freezer and a warm fire for the night, the group decided to stay and plans to get help when morning comes or at least until the snowstorm subsides. But one superglued wound and bickering couple later, the thought-to-be isolated motel didn't turned out to be that isolated at all. Someone inside, armed with a pickaxe, isn't happy with their company. In fact, he has a point to make through with all of them, one swing and hit at a time...

Snowbound slashers like Ghostkeeper, Satan's Blade and Iced provided us big possibilities on making winter wastelands a great premise for a cat-and-mouse antic, the only catch being how effective the movie's direction's gonna make it work. Cold Prey is Norway's answer to this, taking some cues on a wide variety of snowbound horror movies other than slashers alone. The movie's secondary location, a run-down, isolated motel, is an obvious shout-out to Kubrick's The Shining and interestingly managed to capture the sense of dread and tension Kubrick's movie have, played around with a low cast number pitted against an unseen foe in a territory they're unfamiliar with, thus leaving many open spots for the killer to strike.

True enough, the killer begins to kill them off after a hour mark or less, with the first third focusing more on building around the characters for us to familiarize. It works, but the film's mistake was that while development calls for some pacing so we can catch-up, by the time the killings starts, the film still drags along in hopes of building more suspense but it never went well with the hysterics and mayhem the killer's causing.

Never the less, Cold Prey still made it through as a throwback to the basics of what makes a slasher film good. The killer's menacing with his mute persona and hulking appearance, donning a ski-mask, goggles and one thick fur coat while brandishing a mighty and tainted pickaxe, with very little known origin adding to his enigmatic existence. Murders aren't as gory, however, but it is bloody enough to provide for a satisfied slasher fan. There's a "twist" in the end but it makes as much sense as the so-called "twist ending" from Russia's own Trackman; where it reveals something that hardly cracked any mystery from the actual movie itself.

If it wasn't for these little mishaps, I would had granted Cold Prey more to rate for its "perfection". Not the most body-littered slasher in a decade where the bloodycount counts, but otherwise forgivable and welcome attempt for a foreign dead teen film.

1 female hacked to death with pickaxe
1 male snared with bear trap, neck broken
1 male pickaxe through the back, exit to chest
1 male pickaxe to the head
total: 4

Nightmare on Hunt Street: Deadly Dreams (1988)

Deadly Dreams (1988)
Rating: ****
Starring:  Mitchell Anderson, Juliette Cummins, Xander Berkeley

Eversince A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) introduced the idea of murder by dreams, you would have expected many of our 80s entries would try to cash-in to its success and try to take a shot on chucking kids into the dream realm to die, just as many had tried to get teens into the woods to be killed after Friday the 13th (1980)'s success or have silent methodic killers terrorize people in the streets just like in Halloween (1978). Ironically, the only thing ANOES successfully passed on to its would-be imitators was the idea of having their killers crack one-liners and bend reality via the supernatural; almost none of them tried to touch the dream world concept, but some did found other ways of utilizing it.

Deadly Dreams (1988) is one of these movies; it's about Alex, a man haunted by a tragic past ten years ago, wherein his parents are murdered one Christmas Eve by Perkins, a disgruntled business partner. Though the killer's reported to had committed suicide the same night of his murder spree, Alex suffers recurring nightmares involving Perkins, still wearing his wolf mask, stalking and murdering him or anyone dear to him. So now 21-years old, Alex is currently undergoing therapy to overcome his nightmares and try to live a social life as normal as possible, but this is somehow proven harder than said when a mysterious figure in a wolf's mask begins showing up around the corner even when he's awake.

Could Perkins still be alive and keeping his vendetta? Or is Alex loosing his mind? Maybe perhaps living in a town that celebrates deer hunting seasons and littered with hunters wasn't such a bright idea for a fellow suffering from trauma but, eitherways, someone's after Alex and there'll be twists and turns you'll never expect.

We can actually count this movie as a tribute to 50s/60s psycho-thrillers or a forerunner to the 90s revival, where rich benefactors are haunted and hunted by loonies that are either real or imagined. This in mind, much of Deadly Dreams' murders are more of false kills that are later revealed to be dreams; some are obvious, some have their varying shock values, but the movie's strengths lies little on these murders but more on the narrative that has us wondering if the killer is really someone who's mistaken to be dead, someone attacking from the grave, or someone hoping to drive the lead mad. (Being one of the sons of a rich family, he's entitled for an inheritance. So you could only wonder if this is all just an elaborate scheme to rob Alex of his future riches.)

Deadly Dreams is passable in terms of photography and direction. The film is paced and evenly written to develop all the players (hence why some might see this movie's 79 minute run time to be longer than imagined), though a few scenes and dialogue couldn't escape being cheesy. The film's hopeless outlook also gave it much effectiveness as a twisty thriller and help the impact of the surprise ending, thus finishing with a slasher that felt more like a bloodier version of an afternoon soap opera, so those expecting a traditional gore-fest might be put off.

It took a good minute to look around and make a serious slasher out of the cavalcade of cheesy imitators and DIY wannabes, so I find Deadly Dreams deserving of our attention as a well directed late 80s entry and the only movie that has a workable wolf mask.

Very workable indeed~
1 female shot with a shotgun
1 male shot with a shotgun
1 male shot himself with a shotgun
1 male shot repeatedly with a shotgun (dream)
1 male had a hunting knife driven through his back (dream)
1 dead deer found in bathtub
1  female smothered with a pillow, hunting knife to the face (dream)
1 male shot offscreen with a shotgun
1 male had his throat cut with a hunting knife
1 male killed offscreen with a hunting knife
Total: 10