Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Life like Film and Vice Versa: Matinee (1989)

Matinee (Canada, 1989) (AKA "Midnight Matinee")
Rating: *1/2
Starring: Ron White, Gillian Barber, Jeff Schultz                         

An extremely rare Canadian TV slasher, Matinee had fallen into the cracks of obscurity for a lot of good reasons, most of them pointing to the fact that it's very dull for doing nothing for most of the time other than talk. And talk. And talk. (and very little on the stalk)

Two years ago, a murder occurred during a movie screening in a small town's theatre, with the killer escaping capture. Forwarding into the present, the theatre's up and running again after its hiatus and not all of the townsfolk are happy about it. (Or at least that's what this movie is trying to suggest) To make matters worse, some employees working on said theatre are disappearing and one car was found with its driver dead. Is the killer from long ago back for more? And if they are, who could it be and what's their deal?

With a title like Matinee (or originally Midnight Matinee), you would expect an energetic romp of a slasher that revolves around and/or inside a movie matinee but, in all honesty, it's hardly one. The movie's more of a police procedural than an actual stalk-and-stab dead teenager flick with all the investigative chit-chat here and there, leading to a colossal amount of red herrings, so much so that I wouldn't be surprised if one is confused by the end, tired of playing "policeman" and just end it all by turning off the damn movie. What's worse is that, aside from the graphic opening murder (with was a humble nod to Friday the 13th), the killings here are plain and tame, and the steady pacing of the movie doesn't help elevate them any better.

Highlights for this film are very little, with the climax thankfully getting everything moving again. A tad too late, though, as all possible excitement were drained away by the film's twisted yet empty storyline. I guess you could say that some rarities deserved to be buried and forgotten; unless you want to kill your cat again with your curiosity, I would really suggest stepping away from this title. Slow, dull and undeniably hollow, that's all you need to know.

1 male knifed through the chest (film)
1 male found knifed through the neck
1 male hanged
1 male killed in car crash
1 male hung with chains
1 male slaughtered
1 male knifed to death
1 female gutted with knife
total: 8

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Schmucko Cop Improves!: Psycho Cop Returns (1993)

Psycho Cop Returns (1993) (AKA "Psycho Cop 2")
Starring: Robert R. Shafer, Barbara Niven, Rod Sweitzer                         

Wow. Just, wow. I never knew I'll survive through this one and actually enjoy it. I must be getting nuttier...

Opening at a diner, two office co-workers are discussing their secret bachelor party blow-out after office hours with the main party planner bribing the guard to let them stay overnight with the hookers he hired. But their confiding is heard, nonetheless, by a man in blue uniform, dark shades and a sinister smile.

As night comes, these hard-partying fellas go on with their business drinking, fucking and enjoying their titty dances, unknown to them that a man named Joe Vickers, AKA Psycho Cop! The Satanist serial killer in a police's uniform (previously impaled through the chest with a spear. Obviously surviving it somehow) had already broken into their building and plans a little party of his own. A hunting party. And they're the prey!

While the first Psycho Cop is a backwoods teen slasher involving a group of big-haired guys and gals enjoying themselves in a cabin deep in the woods, only to be stalked and killed by a horrendously scripted, one-liner spewing spawn of Satan that actually lead to nowhere but cliché-town, Psycho Cop Returns is something a lot more welcome in my book. The flaw of the first movie is that it tried to focus on being a straight slasher with cheesy hookums with very little to offer back and a lot of material that just doesn't work. (As in Psycho Cop's lame and unrelated one-liners); in Return, the story is more interesting as the teens are replaced with working class adults and the premise takes place in an office afterhours, featuring more brutal and satisfying murders under a tone more open as a horror-comedy.

It becomes a real treat for me and I'm proud to say that this sequel's quite underrated. The story's nothing really complicated but there's a sense of direction and flow that made it quite watchable despite having a trail of cheese in its scripting. The characters here, while most are just plain meat for the count, are likable as they do show a bit more humor than the cardboard teens from the original, something worth seeing before they actually get killed off.

Even the psycho himself is an improvement; yes, he's still spewing one-liners now and then, but he seems to be more focused and serious with his spree here than just some random loon killing everyone like a walkthrough, yakking to himself these atrocious banters. He plays around with his victims first, which is a real tension bringer, but once he strikes, his kills would come in with much manic energy despite being simple in execution.

Also comparable here is the amount of exploitative and gratuitous nudity; with all the booze, drugs and a trio of strippers, you can't expect the film to be without any form of sexual gratification (and not the kind that just cuts away in twenty seconds in most horror films), as the first half of the film is definitely foreplay in a literal sense, making up of strippers stripping, supply room trysting and boobs. Lots of boobs.

The gore effects is still shoddy, but I don't mind the flaw if it does what it's supposed to do and I have fun. We have splattery gunshots, vicious pencil stabbings, a bunch of people being thrown off their deaths, a lot cooler for me due to, again, the worthwhile build-up. The killer himself is not free from the blood-letting either, as he's subjected to various hackings, shootings and even being thrown off the elevator shaft himself, but as any invincible man of exaggerated psychosis, he just gets back up, giggling and killing.

Not a real winner all throughout, as the supposed bad taste would come off as immature and desperate for many, but as a braindead slasher movie made for those who can switch off and have a good time, Psycho Cop Returns is a return worth waiting for!

1 male stabbed on the eye with pencil
1 male pushed down in an elevator shaft, falls to his death
1 male shot on the head
1 female thrown off a building
1 male and 1 female skewered through with spear
1 male shot through the mouth
1 female shot through the head
1 female had her neck broken
3 males and 1 female killed off camera
Total: 13

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Thank You, Have a Nice Day!: Chopping Mall (1986)

Chopping Mall (1986) (AKA "Killbots")
Rating: ***1/2
Starring:  Kelli Maroney, Tony O'Dell, Russell Todd                         

A shopping mall can be a dangerous place; apart from large robberies and pickpockets, there are also the rude sales person, the tempting greasy hamburgers dripping with cholesterol, and the occasional bawling babies on the table next to you while you're eating.

Oh, and then there are the killbots.

A new security system is installed in Park Plaza, one that comes with laser-eyed tazer-shooting tank bots and mechanized steel doors to prevent hapless robbers from stealing diamonds and stuff. While violent in their methods, the sales pitcher reassures that the "protector" bots are only programmed to neutralize any apprehended criminals and there's nothing to worry about since nothing can go wrong. Insert Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov from Eating Raoul (1982) as one of the spectators watching the demonstration rolling their eyes in disbelief.

Some nights later, a group of four teen couples decide to stay in the mall after closing hours to party, have sex and, for one couple, watch Attack of the Crab Monsters like the adorable virgins they are. Unfortunately for them, that is also the same night a freak lightning "storm" hits the rooftop control system of the Protector bots (three times!), causing a massive malfunction and somehow transforming the Protectors into bloodthirsty "Killbots". These newly converted robots make easy first killings out of the two eggheads who were supposed to be monitoring them; soon, the Killbots make their rounds, murdering off anyone their pinchy little steel pincers can grab hold on to!

While the title is misleading as to no actual chopping was done, Chopping Mall does fit in as a fun and cheesy scifi slasher about killer robots and teen boys who get turned on from tasting pizza on their girlfriends' mouth. It's no real winner in logic and writing but it's silliness is original enough, its execution well paced to keep it from ever being dull, and it's even successful in blending bad movie funnies with a humorously bad script.

Overall, the clichés are still present; the characters are working class variations of your typical teen victim stereotypes such as the jerk/jock, the born leader, the nerd, the disposable female screamers and the (obviously marked) final girl, all of them still doing things that will eventually lead to their deaths. They are, however, likable enough to be forgiven as they do learn to band together when time calls for it and we end up siding with these guys when shit hits the fan. (In a situation like the one they're in, who wouldn't?)

The idea of killer bots isn't entirely new for 1986; on the same year, Craven released a film about an A.I. chip transplant gone wrong in his scifi, drama/horror hocus Deadly Friend, and two years prior, we have another one hailing from the future to kill off a possible war hero in The Terminator, an action scifi thriller that honestly borrowed a lot of slasher film elements. But what set these two titles from Chopping Mall is that the bots here look like they fit in; they're not utterly high-tech, but rather clunky, cheap and real robotic-sounding, making them less humanoid and more fun to watch as they slaughter one teen to the next. Although the sleeping darts and tazer are considerable, one may question the necessity for these guys to have steel-cutting lasers to begin with. (It's like the guys who designed these "protectors" were begging for a bloodbath!) They may not be "true" slasher villains in the sense that they're more akin to a commercialized Dr. Who Dalek than a guy in a Halloween mask, but fret not, they still get the job done. (Plus, they're awfully polite. How often do we have killers wishing you a good day? Then again, they tell it to you once you're dead...)

Chopping Mall is a real treat as an 80s time capsule; big hair, corny lines, a cheesy opening featuring bikini clad models used to advertise stores, electro-synthesizer scoring and a whole lot of shoddy practical effects, it really is a film made to be an enjoyable ride for the decade, despite the low budget and over-the-top premises. The film's really nothing more than an exploitative time waster that's made to entertain and entertain only, so those who're expecting a smarter, deeper horror shtick will surely be disappointed. Then again, this is a movie about robots with lasers hunting down teens in a mall in the 80s. I can't think of anything else you would be looking for in that.

A cult classic of its own right, Chopping Mall is a must see for all fans of the cheddar, slashers and/or weird horror alike! Get it as a purchase or see it as a rent, just remember: Have a Nice Day!

1 male gets his throat crushed with robot pincers
1 male had his neck punctured
1 male steps on a wet tazer, electrocuted
1 male had his throat cut with robot pincers
1 female had her head blown off with laser
1 female set ablaze
1 male thrown off  to his death
1 female shot with laser
1 male electrocuted
Total: 9

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

How To Be A Slasher: Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)

Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)
Rating: ****
Starring: Nathan Baesel, Angela Goethals, Robert Englund                         

Not since Wes Craven's Scream brought the slasher genre to the realm of self-awareness with countless imitations raiding the 90s, the cult classic sophistication known as Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon gave this self-deconstruction a whole new twist: we actually get to see our bad guy's point of view on it!

With the film being one part mockumentary and one part straight slasher, the first half of Behind The Mask tells the story of a three-person documentary group interviewing a charming yet eccentric man known as Leslie, who willingly and openly shares with them his dreams of becoming the next serial slasher, simple tricks to create the many onscreen clichés we got used to (like how doors close by themselves for false scares or planting creepy newspaper clipping for red herrings), as well as his knowledge on character stereotyping and how it usually plans out. (As in how they usually go into the dark and creepy basement with a date just to get scored, or how the final girl is always a virgin)

Things start off real simple and harmless, with Leslie being an overall great guy despite being weird, but the more they near the night of his supposed killing spree finally happens, the more they realize that cannot just ignore his willingness to murder innocent people. As soon as the big night falls, Leslie brandishes his sickle and dons the mask, our crew has a choice to turn tail or die saving these kids.

Full of wit and humor, Behind the Mask is a clever look into what could be regarded as the behind-the-scenes of murder sprees that takes place in a world where villains like Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, and Michael Myers exist and terrorized more than once. It seems that hacking up teenagers in a systematized fashion is an underground fad that people like Leslie can secretly take part of and become one of the best in the "business", which is quite a funny thing seeing many of our aspiring killer's tool of the trades are simple everyday things an individual can grab hold to, or something we can actually do. The closing door jump scare I mentioned earlier? A simple brick tied to a rope! How does a slow-moving killer keep up with his victims? Simple exercise and a healthy living! Killer survives a fatal blow of an axe? Probably because he loosened the axe head before the night even began! Yes, in this movie, the slasher world is full of cheats, but one cannot argue with the execution of the process if it gives workable results!

Perhaps the only thing Behind the Mask never really addressed was why our crew decided to film this project in the first place; we simply start in media res of their project, following altogether our hapless group as they document the rather charming presence of Nathan Baesel's everyday-looking character with a penchant and pride for serial killing.

Due to this, our titular rising killer, Leslie Vernon, is just an interesting take on a villain; his aspiration to be one of the top is engaging, motivating and somehow a little bit human in a sense that we actually get to see his reasoning and his longing for company, hence his warm and lively approach to his documenters despite the fact, as a slasher, he is bound by the unforseen rule to murder these people, thus we cannot really trust him all in all. On the other side of coin, Angela Goethals plays Taylor Gentry, the aspiring interviewer who first found Leslie's dream of murder to be intriguing but soon sees it as something she must intervene on. We follow her as much as we did with Leslie and Goethals played this character with much growth and concern that in the near end, we can't help but root for her.

The last third of the movie is where it takes an amazing turn; rules are changed, twists are made, and we all get to see it on a third person's perspective; people are finally getting picked off  one by one and Leslie's doing it with style and blood to keep a true fan happy.

And speaking of the fandoms, Behind the Mask also littered its little world with more horror movie tributes than you can shake a stick at. Cameos including The Poltergeist's late Zelda Rubinstein as a librarian who knows a thing or two about the Leslie legend, and Robert Englund, Freddy Krueger himself, as a Dr. Loomis-esque hunter of evil who appears to see past Leslie's delusions and is somehow aware of what's going on between our hapless filmmakers. Apart from simple mentions, we also have little winks and nods to films like Halloween (Rabbit in Red Lounge), The Shining (some of the character's name), Pet Sematary (Leslie's pet turtles) and even Hellraiser. (The Lament Configuration)

Some may find it talky, others would disapprove of its self-referencing as a tiring and overused cliché to post-modern slasher films, but in a matter of taste, Behind the Mask is something worth trying. If you're looking for that one smart, fresh and funny slasher film to enjoy for that one rainy night, then look no further, Leslie's coming for you! Anybody else, here's a bottle of Stay Awake...

1 female killed with a scythe 
1 male gets a pitchfork through chest (drafted)
1 male has neck cut through broken car window (drafted)
1 male seen murdered under a pile of saw dust (drafted)
1 male strangled (draft)
1 male hacked with sickle (drafted)
1 male and 1 female hacked to death with a sickle
1 male gets a pitchfork through the chest
1 male gets a sickle to the neck
1 male has his heart plucked out with postpole digger
1 female falls to her death
1 male had his neck broken
1 female hacked to death with a sickle
1 male hanged, neck broken
Total: 10 (15 including drafted kills)

Monday, July 22, 2013

2001: A Space Butchery: Spaceship Terror (2011)

Spaceship Terror (2011)
rating: **
starring: Kristen Springer, Jay Wesley Cochran, Lacey Blair                         

They say that if you begged for something enough, sooner or later the universe is going to answer. The thing about this, however, is that the universe can also be the biggest troll out there as, more or less, I begged a lot for a slasher set in space that wasn't a sequel and I end up with something like this.

Somewhere in the future, five women and one dude crash their ship in a deserted planet but get rescued no sooner (as in mere minutes) by a derelict ship that picked-up their distress call. Inside, they found most of the crew missing and one hysterical girl begging to get out as it turns out their rescuer is really a deranged maniac with a penchant for torture and murder. Now under the madman's mercy, the crew have no choice but to try and survive, follow the killer's rules or be killed on sight.

Slasher film in space, as stretchy as it sounds, is possible; with movies like Alien (1979) (a proto-slasher for my book) and Inseminoid taking the hack-and-slash formula literally to the stars, franchise sequels like Jason X and Leprechaun 4: In Space having their titular killers kill victims in zero gravity, as well as hybrids like Sunshine (2007) and Supernova (2000) starting off pretty sciency only to end with each crew being murdered by a loon, it's only a matter of budget, imagination and direction that a will keep a space slasher fun and workable. Sadly, Spaceship Terror, while it has the subtle imagination and a fair direction, lacks too much of the budget that the end result makes a Turkish Star Wars parody looks like an Oscar winner.

The premise of the movie took place mostly inside the ship, but thanks to the budget, we're mostly limited to two rooms and a bunch of hallways that actually look all the same. I say mostly because we do get shots of the ship's interior, exterior and some of its inner machination, but they all look like CG test footages, cringe-worthy as some of the killings were "enhanced" by these graphics. Editing is no better either when shots used for a murder scene or two appear to have been done using the outdated version of Microsoft's Powerpoint.

The other flaws are no stranger to these kinds of production, mainly bad audio and questionable acting, but its a shame for all honesty as the plot sounds simple enough to enjoy, but, again, the lack of budget took out most of the fun this film could have offered.

Some good can be found, however; most of the kills are done in practical effects and there's some old schooled mean-spiritedness and exploitation, such as the fact that these women had to strip down to their tank tops and undergarments in order to stay on the killer's good side and survive, coming in halfway of being cheesy enough to be laughable. The killer is sort of a space age backwoods hillbilly mess, kept alive by a cyberpunk life support gear and brandishing a mean harpoon gun to catch his victims before murdering them, which is kinda cool if torture porn wasn't so overrated in its days, I guess.

If done under the right budget, Spaceship Terror would have been a fun ride; I was never bored, but the film was irritating on a level so I can't blame anyone who will piss-mouth this movie. Could have been a lot better...

1 male beaten with lead pipe, dismembered with axe
1 female head seen
1 male torso seen
1 skeleton seen
1 male pinned to the wall with shot spears, drilled through the chest
1 male corpse found
1 female dismembered with axe
1 female flattened by closing walls
1 female had her throat cut with knife
1 female stabbed through the back with spear, decapitated with blade
1 female tortured to death
1 male incinerated in rocket launch
total: 12

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Road Down to Hell: Zibahkhana (2007)

Zibahkhana (Pakistan, 2007) (AKA "Hell's Ground")
rating: **1/2
starring: Kunwar Ali Roshan, Rooshanie Ejaz, Rubya Chaudhry

Well, not exactly the kind of zombie/slasher hybrid I was expecting. Can't blame them for trying, though.

Five teens decided to ditch school in order to watch a concert, completely unaware that an unknown disease had tainted another town's water supply, eventually zombifying its residents into cannibal flesh eaters. After going through a detour in hopes of reaching the concert on time, the teens encounter and gets attacked by these zombies, forcing them to go back to the road when one of them gets bitten and in need of a hospital. But as night falls, the group gets lost and encounters another set of monsters...

Foreign slasher films can be tricky as what might be gory for one country may not be the same for another. Marketed as Pakistan's first gore film, Zibahkhana, or Hell's Ground, is a slasher movie that has The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) pulsating through its plot, with a little something extra that tries to be everything we love about Western horror only to come out as a rather average and somewhat misleading portrayal.

For starters, the claim that the film is "Texas Chainsaw meets Dawn of the Dead" had me thinking we're going to have zombies and psychos clashing for the kill count. That didn't happen. Instead, what we have here is a build-up for a possible outbreak from the very beginning of the film (with news clippings and some shots of a town being contained) only to have around ten or fifteen of these dead guys lumbering around, attacking our van-riding group and eating random victims that have no connection with our characters. All of this happening in the span of five minutes or so in the middle of the entire movie. This here's a 77 minute horror film, so after we see the oatmeal-faced zombies, they were barely (or, never) mentioned and seen again, so they're more of an equivalent of a walk-in monster cameo than an actual plot set-piece. (the movie could had gone through without them to be honest)

Misleading zombie hybriding aside, the third act of the film is where it became a full re-telling of Hooper's Texas Chainsaw Massacre, from the crazy hitchhiker scene to a deranged family selling murdered victims as "goat" meat, with some elements of Psycho (1960) and some Pakistani concepts of religion and healers.  While not as gory as it make itself sound to be (only one or two kills deliver the splatter), the murders here are creative enough to be enjoyed by a seasoned slasher fan, with the killer committing them (a Pakistani Leatherface equivalent labeled as "Burqua Man") looking rather cool with his face obscured by a woman's garment that makes him look like a pre-hockey mask Jason Voorhees.

The film is quite steady on its pacing and it really took a lot of time and filler before some real action happens, with a direction that seems to be juggling two horror sub-genres one at a time. The result is a half-half movie that doesn't quite deliver much of the scare factor, but instead shows a bit of cheesy low-budgetary mostly found in B-flicks.

Perhaps I'm asking for too much but, or maybe I just didn't get it, but I can't really give Zibahkhana a low score; the concept is good and I love the dedication the cast and crew put into this film despite it being trashy, micro-budgeted and somewhat lacking a foot to stand on its own. It does manage to entertain and gives some new perspectives for a slasher film in terms of culture and energy, so it's a keeper in my book, as another certified foreign guilty pleasure of mine next to Russia's Trackman (nothing's gonna change that!)

While far from the next great zombie/slasher hybrid I'm looking for (A little higher than Zombie Child (1977), but nowhere as high as Trailer Park of Terror and the outstanding Dead Snow of Norway), but for those who wanted to try a Ladoo version of a dirty, gritty slasher, Zibahkhana is the path for you!
There's nothing beautiful underneath this veil!
1 male beaten with shovel, meat hook to the chest
4 males found disemboweled and cannibalized
1 male head found
1 male stabbed to death with machete
3 males and 1 female found dead
1 male hit on the head with morning star
1 male corpse found
1 male ran over by van, dies
1 female had her neck broken
1 male brained to death with rock, stabbed with a morning star's handle
1 male succumbs to infection
1 female killed offcamera
total: 18

Friday, July 19, 2013

Have Gun. Go Sniper: The Anniversary At Shallow Creek (2011)

The Anniversary at Shallow Creek
Rating: **1/2
Starring: Katharine Brandt, Annie Burgstede, Anthony Campanello

Sometimes, it's just best to don't fix what's not broken.

Not that I have anything against changing the formula but sometimes, for a slasher film to work its best, it must learn to abide with the pattern as much as possible to keep us grounded, all the while try to exhibit something particularly new without the cost of the overall effectiveness of the film.

The Anniversary at Shallow Creek starts with a couple readying for a date when a lone sniper shoots one of them through the head, forcing the other to run back inside the house, only to end up at the hands of a masked hoodlum waiting for her inside with a knife, stabbing her to death before posing her with her dead boyfriend to have their photograph taken.

We then go forward a year later, at the anniversary of the opening murder. (as the title suggests) A group of youngsters decided to join two of their buds for a weekend stay over a cabin to take a break from all their studying. Despite some odd locals giving them a hard time (there's always one in these kind of movies) and one random kid befriending them almost immediately, the gang is happy with booze, BB guns and a bonfire by nightfall and that would have been the case for the rest of the evening if it wasn't for one of them getting shot through the head with a sniper. Turns out whoever killed those two from before is back for more and they'll be picking off the kids one by one in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse.

The premise for The Anniversary at Shallow Creek is nothing new for a slasher movie; kids go to isolated cabin, presumably pissed off some locals, kids have fun, killer arrives and murders one of them, panic happens, people goes into survival mode, chaos ensues to a gambled conclusion. What's different here is that the killer uses a sniper in most of their killings, an idea rarely tackled in a slasher movie since TAG: The Assasination Game (1982), a campus bodycount film which features a killer with an obsession for a shoot-out game. It would have been an interesting take for the basic set-up, but the film suffers through with some distracting flaws that water down an otherwise familiar yet fun film.

The first act wallows around for a good forty minutes, so expect some pacing issues and a lot of scenes where the gang is shown being friendly with another. All in all not a bad thing as it did make the cast interesting and somewhat likable albeit the average acting, but when the first kill happens and everyone is in full panic mode, things go to a similar path where some kids do stupid things that have them being killed and this went on until the hour mark. Around that time, the murders are actually quite good; they're tension-filled as the killer somehow keeps finding ways to use their sniper to murder and trap their victims inside the house before ultimately stalking and murdering them by hand in your typical slasher way.

Things were fine, albeit tedious, until the last act comes in; without revealing much, the killer gets the remaining teens drugged and forced to play a game where they have to kill one another to make a point. What the point was? I dunno. What I do know is that this finale's a chore to watch since it fails to be anywhere as shocking as it sounds, unnecessarily complicating itself with twists that I saw coming from far ahead. This all just leaves me wondering what exactly is this movie about from the beginning. Its marketing claims it's based on true events, but of which is beyond me.

The Anniversary at Shallow Creek may tried to stray away from the basic slasher film conventions and clichés for something unique, but it somehow lost most of its energy in doing so thanks to its direction and attempted original takes on the sub-genre. While some of it works, the rest is really nothing more than the same kind of twists and turns we've seen a couple of times before. It's a shame, really, I was really enjoying the film, but I guess as the the director's first (and so far only) feature length debut, they've got to start off somewhere rocky. Worth a rent if you're willing to, just don't expect too much coming from it.

1 male shot through the head with sniper
1 female knifed to death
1 male shot through the head with sniper
1 female had her throat cut with kitchen knife
1 female shot through the head with sniper
1 male had his neck cut with scalpel
1 male stabbed on the chest with kitchen knives
1 female shot through the chest with sniper
Total: 8

The Ole' Bloody Catholic Way: Alice, Sweet Alice (1976)

Alice, Sweet Alice (1976) (AKA "Communion", "Holy Terror")
Rating: ****1/2
Starring: Linda Miller, Mildred Clinton, Paula E. Sheppard

Ah yes, the one slasher film that makes me feel great as a lip-servicing Catholic! Alice, Sweet Alice was one of my first sought-for slasher title during my early years of rediscovering the sub-genre (as in my College years) and quite a memorable experience to me since I was able to watch it during my "Crisis of Faith" phase. My religious life was at a rocky path around those times but in the end, I came with an epiphany, something of which I came to live with thanks to this film: Philosophically and Spiritually, I believe in God, but I no longer (fully) believe in religion, as people behind it would more likely to mess it up, thus starting my happy and clear life as a Religious Skeptic~

But enough personal Theological chit-chat, let's get down and taboo dirty with this well-loved, cult classic proto-goodness!

Set in 1961, a Catholic community is celebrating their youngins' first Holy Communion, a sacrament signifying a child's first step as a true Catholic. Karen (a very young Brooke Shields!) is one of its celebrants, with most of her family, neighbors and friends showering her with celebratory gifts and the best of luck, much to the jealousy of her older sister, Alice, who tantrums and pranks everyone for the attention but only to end up alienating herself further as no more than a big nuisance.

When the big day comes, just moments before young Karen receives her first communion, a figure in a yellow raincoat and plastic mask lures and strangles the girl in cold blood before setting her body on fire. Taking her place is Alice, stepping into the altar and shocking her family, but before anything can be done, Karen's burnt body is found and chaos ensues inside the house of God.

All fingers point to Alice as the culprit, but her parents beg to differ and demand further investigations. Meanwhile, Alice desperately tries to prove her innocence as her sister's death begins to haunt her in overwhelming guilt. Things go for worse when the figure in the yellow attacks once again, with witnesses recognizing the killer's get-up as that of Alice's during one of her pranks, marking her further as a likely suspect for these crimes.

Of course, as far as the plot is concerned, Alice, Sweet Alice is still ridden with enough red herrings and twists to keep a viewer guessing. (Hence why some people sees this film as a perfect example of an American take on the Italian Gialli) We could suspect Alice as the killer since everything the killer was wearing is seen under her possession before the murders began, but again, this seems too obvious and there other characters missing during the ceremony through and through. This movie made sure that the likely suspects can still be anyone, giving us enough guesses to keep us glued and enough shock factor to keep us horrified and wanting more.

Alice, Sweet Alice (which is originally titled Communion but changed to avoid being confused as a religious horror flick) is perhaps one of the best proto-slasher to be released mainly due to its controversial themes of child murder and heavy Catholic imagery, setting up effective taboo-breaking for considerable shock value and playing with heavy atmosphere with  guilt-provoking religious imagery that constricts and rises the tension around the murders.

Production-wise, most of the talent involved in the film are a mixed bag, ranging from the overly cheesy to the dramatic. Paula Sheppard's portrayal of the scene-stealing (and possibly evil?) Alice is clearly worth mentioning, a strange enough case since the actress was actually a 19 year old playing a twelve year old girl, a fact that somewhat adds to the creepiness and uncertainty her character possess.

Cinematography on this movie is expressive artistically, showing absolute clashing of two contrasting symbolism. The murders were few but the overall effect of them on the plot, as well as on the actual build-up, were most effective. Two scenes in that matter really stood out for me, one being the chaotic and claustrophobic attempted murder of Alice's Aunt, the other was the brutal slaying of a morbidly obese child molester, both of which I find to be the film's most savage moments. The killer committing these crimes would also become one of the more recognized masked villains among slasher fans, notable for their striking yellow raincoat (inspired by the brightly colored get-up featured in a slasher-friendly thriller known as Don't Look Now (1973)) and a creepy-looking plastic mask. Mix up a haunting score and you got a genuine creep-fest at hand!

Misunderstood Angel? or Obvious Devil?
It's steady pacing is its only flaw, but one can bypass this in favor for the overall results of the film. Alice, Sweet Alice would remain as one of the key proto-slashers that stood firmly on its own, influencing many and would become a title any self-respecting fan should see. It's effectively creepy, moody and brutal, even by today's standards, thus deserving a little more credit as a classic 70s chiller!

1 girl strangled with candle stick, set ablaze
1 kitten had its neck crushed
1 male beaten to death with bricks and thrown off a window
1 male knifed to death
1 male knifed on the neck
Total: 5
...Seriously, I don't recall in my First Communion that
I had to fully stick out my tongue to get my first wafer.
Geez, she looks like someone asking for a facial...(definitely the 70s!)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Two Years of Bodycounting: Happy 2nd Birthday Stickyred!!!

Dang. When was the last time I drew this mascot?!
Can you believe this Blog's been running on for two years now? Though, I have to admit this year's productivity is slower than before due to me working, but I managed, and this site's still up, giving you the freshest reviews to popular, not-so-popular, obscure and relatively rare slashers and bodycounting thrillers!

But for this year's birthday post, lemme do some Shout-Outs to my brothers and sisters who took the time to drop by every now and then;

First, to my bros, Craig and Maynard! From Let's Get Out of Here and  Maynard's Horror Movie Diary respectively, my two bros over the web who are never a complete bore with their wide, wide scopes of reviews, feedbacks, insights and beards! But mostly their beards!

Second, goes to the lovely lady of the night, Michele from The Girl Who Loves Horror, the adorable lass in glasses who makes honest and insightful reviews and comebacks, and has the special ability to look cute in glasses!

Then we got fellow Slasher bloggers Hudson and Joaquin Gonzales from Vegan Voorhees and A Slash Above respectively! Hud here's the more interactive one, and probably a better reviewer cuz he's pretty much straight to the point, (I prefer dramatics~! Monami~!), though Mr. Gonzales still entertains back; plus the guy's kind enough to offer me a DVR of Study Hell. (Though the exchange didn't happen. I have nothing rare-ish to exchange...U3U pfft)

Lastly, we got our new friend Lord Crayak, who I believe to be the admin behind a wikia known as Horror Film Bodycount Wiki, which is a good way for me to make sure my own bodycounting is accurate. He sortah frequents my blog and gives a lot of great info on most of the movies I review! I'm deeply appreciative of that as you can tell!

And of course, YOU! YES! YOU! THE ONE WHO'S PROBABLY READING THIS RIGHT NOW! Thanks for dropping by to this little labor of blood, sweat, tears and other bodily fluids that I'm willing to give up for some love and attention! Your views is the reason I'm still doing this, and the fact that I just love hearing myself talk! lol

So, yes, this is here to another year of Bodycounting! Slashers! Serial Killers! And everything else in between!

By the way; isn't it weird she used to look like that? My skills are finally maturing! 8D

The Hornless Goatman Attacks!: Deadly Detour (2011)

Deadly Detour (2011) (AKA "The Goatman Murders", "Deadly Detour: The Goatman Murders")
Rating: ***
starring: Jon Owens, Allie Brennan, Andy Brown

You gotta love the motivation a single handheld camera gives to a group of aspiring (sometimes "wannabe") horror maestros. By the time the late 80s introduced SOV marketing, the horror genre soon became a hot spot for kids with camcorders who wanted to do their own film, a tradition obviously still alive today, kicking and waving in the middle of the road flagging for our attention.

Now the question here is whether the film is worth the stop or we should just ran it over like roadkill; most of the time, it's the latter, but then there are those that make good company in a lonely trip.

Deadly Detour's your average home-made slasher movie, with tons of cheap blood, cheap gore, muffled audio that drops up and down from time to time, bad lighting and weird editing, telling the tale of a group of teens venturing into the woods where they'll be picked off one by one by the "Goatman", who is actually just a deformed guy in overalls and brandishing an assortment of weapons. (mostly a machete) With a plot as basic as the next killer-in-the-backwoods type, what Deadly Detour have that most of these shot-on-video failed to do is that it managed to satisfy all our exploitation needs.

First of is the gore; the guys over Maniac Films (the indie company responsible for this, their feature debut) put a lot of effort of making the nastiest nasty exits as gallons of fake blood and buckets of latex meat get strewn around whenever the killer mutant deformed guy mauls, dismembers, and in one occasion, abort a pregnant lady and strangles her with her own umbilical chord. It's mean-spirited yet imaginative and cheap enough to enjoy.

As most cheap slashers, the plot development was dulled down by the average acting and cheesy script, though it's never boring and it moves along quite nicely with some interesting turns here and there, and a few gross-out moments that's laughably horrid. We also got some T and A, which would have been a fine piece of rack if she wasn't riding some fat dude over some jazzy porno music. (Still, could have been worse, right? For all we know, we could had two fat guys making out...)

Lastly, we got the final act that was kinda reminiscent of the same level of taboo-breaking one particular Troma movie did involving massacring children. (Beware: Children at Play (1989) for those who couldn't guess) It was a nasty piece of work, but the fact that it is awful and so darn cheap tones down the bad taste for me, and I just couldn't stop chuckling on how horrid and uncomfortable it was! (See screenshot for some spoilers~!)

Deadly Detour is everything you would expect in a do-it-yourself horror film; the ineptness of the production is ever present but you can easily forgive these shortcomings thanks to its acceptable entertainment value. If you're a grue and gore fan who's easily satisfied with loads of fake blood and double-digit bodycounts, then this movie's a high recommendation for a rental or two! Try it out!

1 female found bloodied, dies
1 female mauled in half offscreen
1 male gutted with machete
1 male gets an arrow through the head, exits to the mouth
1 female stabbed to death with broken bottle
1 male had his neck sliced open with machete
1 male shredded through car engine
1 female impaled through steel rod
1 female had her head stomped
1 male hacked on the chest with a thrown axe
1 male gets a nailed baseball bat to the head
1 male gets a nailed baseball bat to the head
1 male disemboweled with machete
1 girl hacked with machete
1 male had his chest sliced open with machete
1 pregnant female had her womb stomped, strangled with her own umbilical chord
1 female had her throat cut with machete
2 females hacked on the head with same machete
1 male skewered with white cane
1 male gets a walking stick to the eye
1 female beaten to death with baseball bat
1 female hacked with machete
total: 23