Friday, January 31, 2014

StickyRed Presents: Pimp My Murder Weapons

Slasher films are well known for their methodological killings of everything from sex-brained dumb teens to obnoxious business men through means that always end up with blood being splattered over the walls, usually on a heavy reliance on bladed weapons. Some psychos prefer to keep their weapon simple and classic such as axes, machetes or even a simple butcher knife, while others try to be more unconventional to earn a gimmick by using powertools like powerdrills and the now infamous chainsaw, to something really odd like stiletto heels and even a simple walking cane.

And then we have these; pimped out weaponry hand-made by our loons for their murdering needs. We here in StickyRed will now look into these unusual custom-made weapons of mass murder and share our thoughts on each and every one of them.

Note: This article will only cover hand-held (or for some, worn) weapons, Traps found in films like the SAW or The Collector franchise will not be covered.

Razor Glove (A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise) - Starting off our list is the most memorable and original murder weapon in this fair sub-genre, supernatural teen killer Freddy Krueger made this glove out of scraps while working in his boiler room, with each finger armed with razor sharp knives. The result, five deeps cuts at a time, a murder weapon that can't be kicked out of your hand (unless yer Freddy and you'll allow it) and a weapon that makes any slasher villain proud!

Now this glove has been rip-offed quite a bit through out other slashers; notable examples would be the one used by the killer in the Mexican title Trampa Infernal (1989) made out of different blades, and a gold variant in India's Mahakaal.

Claw-Nailed Glove (The Demon (1980)) - A precursor to Freddy's Razor Glove, the killer's weapon in this God-awfully cheesy South African slasher has the same gimmick of using all of his five digits for killing, though instead of long ginzu knives, we had metallic sharp nails. Unfortunately, the weapon wasn't used too often and it didn't look that striking.

Killer Tire Iron (Sorority Row (2009)) - Perhaps THE weapon that inspired me to do this post, the tire iron used by the killer here sports a hunting knife, a propel tip, a spear and a spade head in place of the usual doo-hickeys. While I find this to be a creative new way to murder people with a car repair tool, there's a tad bit of cheesiness to it that just works. Plus, how often do we get a workable throwing weapon that you can re-use over and over again?

Bone Shuriken (Jeepers Creepers 2 (2003)) - Looking into another throwing weapon, a set of small yet uber sharp shurikens makes a creepy debut in this sequel to a cult fave slasher-monster hybrid as bewildered school staff from a bus full of jocks, misplaced nerds and cheerleaders finds it sporting a tooth. We then see it in action as the Creeper returns for a second round to fully emancipate the bus. As much as it is cool to see it slice through tires, I am a little disappointed that we had to wait so long before we get to see it used to kill someone. Never the less, still a pretty sweet weapon.

Live Animals (Shark Night 3D (2011), The Collector (2009)Wilderness (2006), The Tripper (2006)Grizzly Park (2008), Madhouse/There Was A Little Girl (1981), Without Warning (1980) among many) - Though not exactly "customized weapons" per se, do take that these beasts are trained to kill so it's sortah like customizing them. Though I'm sure there will be more, listed above are some of the slashers I've seen so far that have everything from trained dogs and bears to even parasitic aliens to do the killing; obviously not the most subtle method of murder for some people to see, especially if you're sitting right next to a tree-hugger or an animal right's activist, but you can't argue with results when you see how good some of these animals are in mauling people.

Sledge-Anvil (Sweatshop (2009)) - The heaviest weapon in this list, the welding mask-wearing titan in this impressive little gore flick carries a large anvil welded into a long and sturdy piece of metal piping. Apart from his horde of demonic-looking raggedy babes, its this weapon alone that makes me believe this guy's ain't human and applauding at the gory results of pureed body parts.

Armed Mascot Suit (Girls Nite Out (1982)) - This is supposed to fall into the razor glove category until I reminded myself that the weapon used here were steak knives taped together and hidden under a bear mascot's suit, thus not necessarily a dangerous digit weapon but more of an armed mascot suit. I admit that this is an ingenious way use a steak knife to kill someone and, even more, a great way to obscure your weapons, but, God, the suit! Why use a suit that isn't terrifying, killer I cannot verbally bash cuz I still respect the strange fans you keep receiving? Why?

Bowling Set (Gutterballs (2008)) - Now this is dedication for a gimmick; keeping in level to the bowling rink set-up of the movie, the notorious avenger BBK (AKA Bad Bowling Killer) has everything in theme with the sport, from his suit to the murder weapons. Amusingly, he shows us all the fun stuff you can do with a set of bowling pins in the opening montage, but I'm a little disappointed we didn't get to see him use the Bowling Pin-Nunchakus he made there. Apart from killer pins, we're also demonstrated the fatality of two bowling balls and bowling shoe laces tied into a garrote.

Noose-o-matic (Trauma (1993)) - Now why on Earth would you over-complicate a simple act of garroting? Designed by Tom Savini for Dario Argento's early 90s giallo, the hand-held auto-noose is one of the laziest weapon I've seen, taking out the fun you can get from a good garroting. Guess the killer doesn't want to get their hands dirty? Or maybe they're not strong enough to decapitate them? Whatever reason they can come up with, I don't hate the weapon, but I certainly can't put myself up as a fan of it either.

Spring-Loaded Blade Disc (Chromeskull: Laid To Rest 2 (2011)) - Well, shit, ain't this a beauty; six blade heads attached together into a throwing disc by the handles, with a spring-base action that can be used to split open heads if done away a victim with enough force. Pretty cool weapon...

If only the movie didn't fail so much.

Razor Staff (Sint (2010)) - Best way to murder someone on horse back apart from shooting at your victims like The Sundance Kid? How about spearing at them with a long saw-toothed staff? Looks pretty cool but we only get to see it used twice or something cuz Saint Nick in this pic only appeared just as often. (The big guy let his little burned men do the killing. tsk tsk)

Rake Rivet Glove (I've Been Waiting For You (1998)) - Wolverine, please copyright your claws or suffer seeing them ripped off like this. For the record, this geek's weapon wasn't even used. A lot. Cuz he only killed like two times. With one of them being scared to death. Fuck.

Automatic Nailgun (Nail Gun Massacre (1986)) - Firing 100 nails per second, a souped-up nailgun is the Darth Vader-sounding killer's weapon of choice in this horribly bad yet entertainingly cheesy slasher cult hit. Now if only the killer would stop ruining the weapon's coolness by spouting horrible one-liners...

Motorbike Electric Chair (Nightmare Beach (1989)) - Used for a bit until the killer went on to more hand-held and/or creative ways to fry people, a juiced-up hot rod comes in with a built-in electric chair that electrocutes anybody that sits behind the rider at a push of a button. Pretty sweet ride, even more once you know who the masked killer is.

Serious Sweets (Trick R' Treat, Santa's Slay (2005), Black Christmas (2006)) - Before Trick R' Treat, Christmas slashers Santa's Slay and the Black Christmas redux showed us the fatality of getting a sharpened candy cane into parts in your body that aren't meant to digest food. By the time the Halloween anthology hits the videos, we're re-introduced to killer candies with a twist of utilizing a well-known urban legend about razors in chocolate bars before going back to sharpened suckers on sticks. Ah, the creativity of maniacal killings.

Crucifix (End Of The Line (2007)) - If I was a little younger, I would find this blasphemous and hated it. Now that I'm a little older, it's still blasphemous but hot-dang, I wish they did this a little better; a cult of religious fanatics, who believes that the world is ending and it is their duty to "save" as many as they can by murdering them, have crucifixes with hidden blades as their tools of salvation. A little small for my taste, I would have settled for something like a crucifix that is big enough to be wielded like an axe. Guess I can't win every holy war.

Bladed Fruit-Picker (The Caretaker (2008)) - Um. So. A fruit picker with blades. Genius? Well, I guess if you're looking for a gimmick, something like this could come out as desperate yet imaginative. But no, I'm not overly impressed, just feeling a bit cliched.

Wax Voodoo (Needle (2010)) - Imagine if Mattel's Thingmaker suddenly let you have the ability to inflict the most painful dismemberment just by breaking the molded toy you just created. Now this is a cool and imaginative way on killing thespians, giving you a clean getaway as you don't need to get your hands dirty! The drawback, it only works if you include a photo of your intended victim during the wax doll-making process, hence a bit of a hassle.

Still cool, nevertheless.

Ten-Foot Chainsaw (Hatchet 2 (2010)) - Okay, this is a bit of a cheat since there is a possibility for a long chainsaw to exist as it is without customizing it but I just had to include it here for no one, not even Leatherface, attempted to use it in celluloid. No one, until Victor Crowley that is; Hatchet 2 marks the franchise's descent into cheesier realms, focusing more on taking up the bodycount to double digits. Just to do that, swamp maniac Victor Crowley takes a chance on two of victims to commit a double murder via groin evisceration using the longest chainsaw celluloid ever laid eyes on. Was there a need in the real world for such tool? Hell, I dunno, but it sure is weird!

So what about you? Seen any slashers with a uniquely made weapon? Had I missed anything? Feel free to gripe and tug my hair for attention! I won't bite til' next time!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

If You See The Tree Surgeon: Don't Let Him In (2011)

Don't Let Him In (United Kingdom, 2011)
Rating: ***
Starring: Sophie Linfield, Sam Hazeldine, Gordon Alexander

Well, least by the title, we know our killer's a dude, so that's one possible twist down. Now let see if the rest of them fare well?

Calvin and Paige, a vacationing couple, invites Calvin's love-sick sister Mandy for a trip to the countryside. In turn, Mandy invites her obnoxious boyfriend Tristan, who only agrees to tag along as it appears he's in a spot of trouble that he needs to get away from secretly.

Along the way, they meet a wandering backpacker who claims to be psychic and warns them, upon reading palms, that something dangerous will happen if they continue. Scoffing this off at first, they will soon get another round of doom-saying when they hear from a conveniently bypassing constable that a series of bizarre killings had body parts being strung on trees, done by a mad man they moniker as "The Tree Surgeon". You would think that two warnings in one day might be signs from whatever higher power you believe in telling you to watch out, but for these guys? They thought little of these. That is until night falls.

After an long morning, the cabin folks encounter a wounded man that evening, claiming that something in the woods did this to him. Paige quickly patch him up and the two couple let him rest with them overnight, much to Mandy and Tristan's uneasiness.

The next day is when everything finally gets interesting; without spoiling much, one of them shows their murderous side, another isn't who they claim to be. All in all, everybody is in deep shit.

I like the way Don't Let Him In played with our expectations for a bit, but if we're going to look into the story, I do get this nagging feeling that they were trying to do something complex for the basic slasher build; technically, there are two twists, with multiple red herrings and a lot of plot holes that weren't explained well.  Or rather at all. It takes the movie a while to get some bloodletting happen, meaning there's a lot of character development beforehand that works variably.

Once we get to know who we think we can trust and who we wish will die off horribly (there's always one in every movie), this is when the direction and flow of the movie are tested. Some shocking deaths occur and then some accusations and twists, before you know it we're back to familiar footings and we're watching one lone survivor pitted against a maniacal killer, who appears to have his own brand of philosophy regarding trees, which doubles as his murderous motivation.

Despite the small budget, Don't Let Him In did pretty good in keeping the plot as interesting as possible, and while some of the killings did show how cheap the movie is, it's a small flaw. Devoid of gratuitous exploitation such as a high bodycount and random nudity, its a lot more subtle in tone, putting us up to see an unfolding series of unfortunate events take its toll on our characters in terms of uncertainty and paranoia that's quite more developed despite some unanswered plot points and a savage finale.

I must say, Don't Let Him In didn't really catch my attention until I came upon a review of the movie and just tried it out after said review claims that the film is rather average, with some semi-decent twists. True enough, I saw just that; it's not a big game-changer, albeit a worthy effort.

1 male body seen in pieces
1 female hacked with a cleaver, killed
1 male garroted with fishing wire, brained to death with a rock
1 female knifed on the back
1 male had his throat cut with a knife
1 male ran through with a pitchfork
1 male and 1 female skewered on hay spike
Total: 8

Friday, January 24, 2014

And Evil Shall Appear as a Schoolgirl: Eko Eko Azarak: Wizard of Darkness (1995)

Eko Eko Azarak: Wizard of Darkness (Japan, 1995)
Rating: ***1/2
Staring: Kimika Yoshino, Miho Kanno, Shu-Ma

Kuroi Misa is a new transfer student of a local high school; she's stern, particularly mature, but her skills in using black magic proves to be an interest for a particular group of peers, who pressures her into cursing a teacher who's making their lives miserable.

Though it worked, a jealous classmate, who also practices black magic, accuses her of the series of strange deaths occurring all over the city when said teacher ended up dead in the next day. Said deaths, oddly, does take a particular pattern, that of a pentagram, so Kuroi  may have a hard time convincing anyone that her magic is not to blame. Things goes for the worse when she, along with these students, ends up mysteriously locked in one night, ending up either being murdered or killed in bizarre and overly brutal manner by someone behind a cloak and hiding in a candle lit room.

Eventually, Kuroi  learns that might be the something more diabolical than a mere massacre; something that, if completed, might bring forth a force too powerful to apprehend and defeat.

Wizard of Darkness is one of those overlooked slasher-hybrids thanks to obscure franchising that went into an entirely different tone; while being the first of five movies and a basis for a TV series, Wizard of Darkness is the only one in the series that had a slasher film over tone. Although it did try to do something entirely different with its plot by including dabs of the occult and a possible apocalyptic end to our world, the first half's sheer focus on murdering these students one at a time is all the familiarity we need to recognize a bodycount film, left alone the fact that some of the usual slasher clichés are present. This will include a variation of the sex=death formula (done here in exploit featuring a lesbian student-teacher affair), teens doing stupid decision that ends up with them dead, and multiple plot twist and red herrings to keep the killer's, or killers', identity a mystery.

The occult theme here was played side-by-side on the killings, and even more around the first few acts. Although some of it is pretty straightforward, I do enjoy how this culture tries to take a stab on classic juju that involves a lot of devil worship and voodoo dolls. Kinda cheesy, but does go well with the movie's simple yet sort of gritty beginnings.

In terms of budget, the film definitely shows how little is used, but otherwise it befits the overall tone of the film; The single setting fair quite well for the massacre, and some good camera work had us sweeping through the empty corridors with ghostly visage and a bit of gloomy atmosphere. The murders are creatively simple yet bloody enough to satisfy fans of dead teenager films, but some of the supernatural elements of the film are played down until the last act which involves an arrival of a powerful deity. Around this act, the use of cheap CG did come off rather distracting but thankfully this only lasted for a few moments, thus only a minor drawback.

Other flaws I see here is that the victims being slaughtered here are not that developed; as most of the focus was on Kuroi, the rest are literally disposable characters made to pump up the kill count as they panic and scream at something they cannot understand. Yes, they're scared, and this would be a common reaction anyone would have if everybody else seems to be dying off in impossible accidents, but I really do wish they did more than be mere victims. Still, the lead heroine is pretty far out; she's serious, but not the kind that's too hardened so it makes her at least relatable.

In conclusion, Wizard of Darkness is one obscure title that's a must-check for slasher fans; if you think Japan's first standard slasher Evil Dead Trap was strange enough to satisfy your bodycounting urges, wait til' you see this one.

1 female head crushed by a falling metal girder
1 male mentioned killed in car accident
1 female drowned
3 males and 2 females slaughtered off camera
1 female decapitated by a sliding window pane
1 male trips down the stairs and hits his head on fall
1 female slashed dead with a box cutter
1 male throat cut with box cutter
1 male throat cut with box cutter
1 female found crucified to a table with a throat cut, bled to death
1 female falls back-first unto an axe
1 female had her face torn open, killed
Total: 16

Monday, January 20, 2014

Killer Workouts: Aerobicide (1987) & Death Spa (1989) Double Bill Review

What's better than one cheesy horror film about hot bods in leotards and stab wounds? What about two? Welcome to StickyRed's KILLER WORKOUTS Double Bill review!

Aerobicide (1987) (AKA "Killer Workout")
Rating: ***
Starring: Marcia Karr, David James Campbell, Fritz Matthews

Dig this for an opening act: a model hops into a sunbed at a local gym only to get fried alive as it malfunctions for God knows what reason. The irony? She's supposed to appear on a cover for an issue of Cosmopolitan magazine.

Next thing we see is the same gym, years later, showcasing all the busy bodies in tight leotards and leg warmers doing dance routines and exercises for our viewing pleasure. (As one would expect in a movie called Aerobicide!) Some montage and sultry poses later, one of the regulars of this fine establishment gets murdered by a king-sized safety pin whilst showering. How a pin can be used to stab someone to death or is strong enough to put holes into heads fatal enough to kill them is beyond my knowledge, but manageress Rhonda isn't gonna have any more of her clients dropping like flies!

In comes in Lt. Morgan, a hired detective who goes into interrogating the staff and one guy named Chuck, who claims to be the gym's co-owner. Then there's the weird jealous ex-boyfriend Jimmy who has been stalking the joint for some time now. The more suspects shows up, the more the kill count goes higher, with some of these can-be-killers dying along. So who is this gloved killer? Why are they doing all this? Are they the same one responsible for the tanning bed incident years ago? And where on Earth did they bought that king-sized safety pin that works so well as a murder weapon?

The film may sound like a lot of loops and twists, but Aerobicide is actually pretty cheesy for a supposed murder mystery, hence me having a hard time trying to swallow any of this as serious banter. For one, why not just close down the gym for a while instead of risking the lives of your patrons, staffs and bypassers? And all this in a few weeks? Phenomenal! Then there's some issues with the film's technical aspects; lighting on some night/dark scenes makes it hard for me to make out who dies, effects used in these murders are pretty cheap albeit bloody, and then there's the uninteresting dialogues we have to put up with, more mind-numbing as they are inaudible in some scenes.

Still, for bigger fans of hammy horror movies, this might be a fair enough 80s time capsule for its worth; there's a level on its badness that it's almost comical and could even push some viewers to forgive its flaws for entertaining them and keeping everything on a flow. T&A and leg-spreading routine montages is also another reason for some to enjoy this, cheesy as they are played along to some rocking 80s soundtrack (a rarity of its own due to limited release) and had the girls wear the most provocative looking tights I've seen. Scares and gore is low on the counter, but even if so, this makes the movie far from being the worst dance-slash hybriding the 80s can come up with. (Have you seen Slash Dance (1989)? Take my word for this, stick with Aerobicide...)

In the near end, it tries to play it straight with some nice twist and some last swings on piling up some more dead bods, but is Aerobicide good enough to count on as a deserving purchase? Well, depends on you, but it's good enough for me as a single night's renting or two.

1 female stabbed to death with a safety pin
1 female stabbed to death with a safety pin
1 male stabbed to death with a safety pin
1 female had her throat cut with a hunting knife
1 female stabbed on the head with a kitchen knife
1 male bashed on the face with a barbell
1 male stabbed on the head with a safety pin
1 female had her throat cut with a kitchen knife (dream)
1 male hacked with a safety pin
1 female found hanged
1 female found stabbed on the eye
1 male ran over with a car, stabbed with an ice pick
1 male shot to death
1 male bludgeoned with a shovel
Total: 14

Death Spa (1989) (AKA "Witch Bitch")
Rating: ***
Starring: William Bumiller, Brenda Bakke, Merritt Butrick

Itching for a silly supernatural slasher? Hot bods being tortured with hot-water spewing showers? Ghostly visions and killer gym equipment? Then step right up to this crazy, yet gleefully gory late 80s horror!

Welcome to Starbody Health Spa, the coolest and sexiest health spa to exist, featuring all the goodies from synchronized dance classes and automated facilities to yummy health bars and an annual Mardi Gras party! But the spas' reputation is about to get tainted after strange incidents begin harming its patrons, including a chlorine leak that blinds a girl, jumping boards on swimming pools breaking off by themselves and one guy being crushed to death by a gym equipment.

The owner of this joint, Michael, sets his suspicions on various possible causes, including an issue with the spa's computer system which might be a sabotage attempt by his brother-in-law who is working for him as a programmer. He's apparently crazy angry at Michael cuz he blames him for his sister's apparent suicide but, then again, what of the ghostly dreams Michael's been having about his wife reaching to him from beyond the grave? What of the unseen forces that have been mangling people by throwing them off in the air? Could it be his wife seeking revenge from the afterlife?

Well, it seems to look that way, or maybe it's both?

While it does try to play around with what might be causing all these accidents as some form of gory mystery, the culprit is pretty obvious considering how these incidents are impossible to be done by some guy working behind a computer monitor. Thus, no matter how much it plays itself straight, Death Spa is just too silly to be taken seriously with its over-the-top situation, utterly hammy scripting, and a momentous amount of sexy fillers ranging from full frontal showers to chicks running around in their underwear. (Then there's that foreplay involving a blind lady eating a rather phallic asparagus. Don't know if it counts, though...) It takes a while before people actually starts to die off but once it does, the cheesiness of the film goes off the scale as everything from acid showers to possessed frozen fish start to take the lives of our hapless health enthusiasts, almost to a point that its so surreal with the splatter, even more chaotic once the Mardi Gras party starts and leads to a fiery finale.

At that point, on a proper mindset, Death Spa can be enjoyed as a fun and visceral late-80s cheapo that you can rent overnight for a freaky run. Regarded this is a sad attempt to do a supernatural slasher, I'm pretty dang sure you can do worse than this.

1 paraplegic female sets herself on fire (flashback)
1 male torn in half
1 female ran through the neck with a javelin
1 female showered with acid
1 male beaten to death
1 male had his face mangled and crushed
1 male ran through the face with a metal beam
1 female killed offscreen
1 female had her hand shredded in a blender, killed
1 male had his throat ripped by a possessed fish
1 female shredded to bits by an exploding mirror
1 male caught on fire
1 female seen dead
1 female seen trampled
1 male seen dead
A number of victims presumably burned to death
1 male electrocuted into combusting, shot to death
Total: 16+

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Unaborted Son of A Chinese Boogeyman: Devil Returns (1982)

Devil Returns (Hong Kong, 1982)
Rating: **1/2
Starring: Alan Tam, Emily Y. Chang, Feng-Jiao Lin                                                   

A serial rapist and robber is on the prowl in this early 80s Asian horror from Hong Kong and his recent victim Mei Hsun-Fang, a school teacher, has the unfortunate luck of getting a ride with him during one rainy night. Chased around a dilapidated building, Fang is soon beaten, raped off-camera and left for dead, but she miraculously survives and gets rescued by cops, eventually becoming the key suspect that puts her attacker under lawful execution via rifle shot.

However, Fang finds herself unable to move on from the incident as visions of the dead rapist pop up now and then, stressing her relationship with her was-boyfriend-now-husband Yu-Ching Lo. It gets worse when she finds out she's pregnant with what might be the rapist's baby and her mad ramblings leads to her try killing off the unborn child by attending an abortion clinic. That visit somehow ended up with a doctor being murdered by a possessed hand, flying around the room like Tina from A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) before getting thrown out a window to his death.

Obviously, something supernatural wants her to keep the child, so Fang did the only sensible thing: jump off a flight of stairs and hoping it will do the job. Only it didn't. She gave birth prematurely to a normal, healthy baby boy.

Well, "normal" might be a stretch as the boy does apparently like to torment her by crying all night, only to stop when anybody else except his mum tends to him. Still convinced that her baby's evil, Fang takes it to a nearby temple under a friend's advice and got the evil exorcised out of the kid. (complete with head spins ala The Exorcist) It seems like a successful ritual, but Fang (and pretty much anybody else that comes along later that evening) will soon find that the removed evil has just manifested itself in the flesh, hellbent on killing.

A mad dash exploitation of everything supernatural and, later, a rip-off of John carpenter's Halloween, Devil Returns is well known for its sudden tone/sub-genre shift that divided attention from horror fans. For most parts, the film was more of an Asian version of Rosemary's Baby, tackling issues such as post-traumatic and post-partum depressions with a more obvious hint of the supernatural, up until the last third where it starts to carbon copy memorable scenes from Halloween. Looking pass the cheesy scripting and some questionable acting, it is quite deep and interesting for an exploitation movie from Asia to tackle this, building a nice set-up for the characters.

Because of this, I find it understandable why some of those who'd seen this movie were upset when it suddenly changes tone to that of a no-brainer slasher, with the sudden revival of the baby's biological (and now, supernatural) father falling a bit too random.

However, this might be a case more on personal taste and expectations; I first came upon this title through a review giving enough details to the story, including the change of tone, so this didn't came much of a surprise for me. So instead of being appalled, I came to enjoy it more seeing I knew which direction this film was going in the end. This might be because I didn't try to take too much of the movie seriously, even before the cheesy killing spree started, so the unoriginal last act came off to me as averagely entertaining.

As a fair and easy film, Devil Returns is an undeniable overseas cash-in to the uprising popularity of slashers over at the US of A, all in the meantime ripping off some other popular horror flicks to appeal a wider range of taste. Not really all that smart, but for some people who just love a bad slasher, this is worth a shot.

1 male shot with rifle
1 male slashed with scalpel and beaten, thrown off to his death from a window
1 female had her head knock to a hanger hook
1 male impaled through with a knife
1 female smothered with shower curtains
Total: 5

Friday, January 17, 2014

Twisting Twists in a Movie Within a Movie: Return to Horror High (1987)

Return to Horror High (1987)
Rating: *
Starring:  Richard Brestoff, George Clooney, Vince Edwards

It's hard to enjoy a film that offers a lot through out its run, only to spit on you in the end without giving much of an explaining. Coincidently, it'll be harder to do this without spoiling the entire film for you, so lemme just break down what exactly happened here:

Back in 1982, a mad slasher murdered a number of teenagers at their local high school and was never caught. Now five years later, a film crew decided to do a movie about the murders though they're having a hard time deciding whether it should be a subtle character-driven horror film or an all-out gory and T&A glorified slasher.

It all leads into something quite deadly for them (and confusing to us) when someone begins to kill off the crew one at a time, leaving the last two to figured out that someone is indeed hacking special effects guys and actors to pieces, working up to multiple reveals, plot twists and a maddened showdown between a very deranged killer.

All of these events are told via flashback by the only survivor of the massacre, who is later found that evening by responding police as they storm the murder site, littered with the pieces of the victims. Or are they?

Turns out Return to Horror High (no relation to the 1973 horror film "Horror High") is one of those films that tried to do the old "the kills happened off camera so we can hide the fact no one really died" kind of plot twist that's been done before by better films like April Fools Day (1986). But unlike April Fools, the twist reveal wasn't very smart nor was it explained in its entirely; the fact that they called in real police to clean up and inspect the place, all of them claiming that the bodies they found were mutilated into so many pieces, no one can tell which part belongs to who. And yet, we see these "pieces" get up all in one working chunk in the reveal so how on earth did the cops mistook these as messy piles? Let's also add the fact that we do have a real killer still out there who may or may not be tied into the project in one way, seeing that our survivor is his son (or at least we're supposed to believe to be), so who's who and who's not are churned to the point we can't really tell what's happening, a complete disappointment seeing that the film tries to play everything straight save for a lot of quirky character moments.

I guess if you look through out the film, you could have picked up that Return to Horror High will not make its own continuity a real looker; more than once, the film's direction had us looking into an interesting build-up only for someone to yell "cut" and reveal it's all just a take for their movie. The film never bothered giving us a heads up if the scene we're watching is for real or not, so I really can't put myself to fully enjoy a story that doesn't care much if their audience is still following on what they're seeing.

This is just sad for me because everything else about this film was quite good for an 80s horror film; the budget looks fair as the special effects on some of these kills are bloody good despite being cheesy. It also has a good score, decent acting for most parts, and the film is shot with such care for camera work. It tries to play everything else professionally, so it's just damn awful that it had to be ruined by an incoherent and non-audience friendly story that fails to be both horrifying or comical.

George Clooney appears to be in this through a small cameo (with a mullet) but honestly, I don't care if Michael Jackson played the killer here if it's gonna be this bad. A total waste of time and money.
yeah, lap it up, Clooney. You'll be dead in five minutes...
1 male stabbed, mostly offcamera
1 male beheaded with an axe
1 male pulled into a sandpit, killed
1 male slaughtered through a fan propeller
1 male sliced open with a scalpel (story)
1 male had his neck broken (dream)
1 female beheaded with sickle (dream)
1 male killed, later found in pieces
1 male impaled on a spear, shot to death
Total: 9...until the twist came

Spooky House Massacre via Live Feed: Death on Demand (2008)

Death on Demand (2008) (AKA "Web of Horror")
Rating: ***
Starring: Jerry Broome, Suzannah Lawson Matalon, Bridget Megan Clark

If you've already seen the underrated Halloween sequel Halloween: Resurrection, then the plot for this movie is no short of another case of "been-there-done-that". But to be fair, those kind of films are rarely done in a slasher, so I took some consideration giving this film some credit for trying it.

Some time ago, Sean McIntyre is a mountain climber who suffered an altitude sickness attack and ends up hallucinating during a trip with his crew, killing one of them with an ice axe after mistaking him for a monster. He was released soon after, believed to be at least recovering, but as it turns out, Sean was still suffering from the sickness and no soon murdered his entire family during one Thanksgiving before committing suicide via hanging.

Years had passed until the present, an internet entrepreneur planned hosting a live Halloween web broadcast with six couples staying inside a supposed haunted house overnight in a chance to win $5,000. The same house, it appears, as to where our mad climber used to live in and murdered his entire family. One of the contestants is a practicing psychic who, through her tarot cards, saw an impending danger that's yet to happen once they get into that house. But as any horror film known out there, nobody listens to her, especially not her macho-jock-jerk boyfriend, so it's not so surprising that the legend of Sean's ghost still roaming around turns out to be true, apparently awakened by the teen's careless séance. What's worse for these hapless thespians is that Sean's still sick in the head, and he has a bag load of mountaineering tools to put in and through them for the whole night.

It's not exactly a lot, but Death on Demand is a fun fright flick that provides the gore, some decent scares and a lot of nudity for the fans. The supernatural slasher elements may had taken its time to get around, waiting for almost an hour before ghost Sean finally puts his ice axe to good use again, but once it starts, the momentum never slowed down, and the practical effects gives us a generous amount of splatter to get along with its sort-of inventive killings.
This knife. Into your heel.
Acting isn't gonna be any favors, too, since most of these victims are dumb frat members. Even our final girl's fight for survival isn't taken in that quite well since all she did is scream and cower up in an attic while trying to do another séance (with a dead body and something about a doll) in a desperate attempt to save what remains of them. It's a bit of a dip into the cheese, with some very gratuitous sex scenes, but the silliness of the movie fits well with its casual horror tone, making Death on Demand at least the decency of being an option for a party night rental.

Unless you're looking for more, Death on Demand is a slasher film good enough to be seen for the sake of having fun. If you could ignore the far-less believable acting and the fact you had to wait through these for you to see the good stuff, then rent away!

1 male seen killed, mentioned hacked on the head with ice axe
1 female beaten against the table
1 female decapitated with an ice axe
2 girls murdered offcamera
1 male hanged
1 female disemboweled with an ice axe, hacked on the head
1 female Achilles' heel cut out with buck knife,  killed with ice axe
1 male gets his head crushed with a spiked hiking boot
1 female ran through the head with a camming device
1 male hacked on the gut with ice axe
1 male hacked to death with ice axe
1 male gets an arm lopped off with an ice axe, hacked to death
1 female gets a grappling hook through the gut
Total: 14
Just to keep in touch with the film's web broadcast theme,
check out this guy cosplaying as a troll from the web comic Homestuck!