Sunday, June 22, 2014

101 Maniacs: Admin's Top Slashers 20-11

*As of 2014*

Inspired and tempted by this delicious countdown,  Here be my personal Top 101 Slasher movies that really stood out the most!

Note: These are in no particular order (save the last ten) and they're all personal picks, so, nope. Your faves or your orders does not matter here! Muahahaha!...ha!

30-21 Here

20. Identity (2003)
Eleven strangers got stuck in a motel during one stormy night, wherein they find themselves dwindling down in numbers. Sounds pretty generic? Don' be fooled, this movie got more twists and bloody turns to elevate this "thriller" into a pure slasher movie. 

Bloody Best Bits: One suspect was left alone and later found killed with a baseball bat in a display most shocking. 

19. Evilspeak
Carrie (any version) may have the "revenge of the teenager with powers" in the bag, but Evilspeak does a little better for me since it had the guts (and blood. and dismembered heads) to give us a much more gorily satisfying finale as one bullied chap got his sweet revenge on everybody that wronged him with the help of black magic and a computer.

Bloody Best Bits: Again, the finale. Cheesiness aside, it's pretty badass and gloriously gory.

18. Scream (1996)
Wes Craven's bonafide 90s hit gets a warm welcome mat on this list for saving the sub-genre from obscurity and relaunching it for the mainstream audience. How? By giving us one wonderfully written whodunit about a small town terrorized by a ghost-faced killer, who may have something to do with a local girl who lost her mum a year prior ago.

Bloody Best Bits: The opening act. Seeing Drew Barrymore terrorized by a masked killer is devilish fun!

17. Freddy vs Jason
Dracula vs Frankenstein! King Kong vs Godzilla! Adam Sandler vs Ben Stiller! We all love monsters brawling it out, so seeing two slasher icons battle for blood and glory is a dream come true for us horror fans. Left powerless since the Elm street kids stopped believing in him, Freddy brought Jason back to life to spark paranoia under the Springwood Slasher's name. But when the masked hulk begins to murder more than what Freddy had hoped for, the two clashed for an epic showdown for slasher supremacy.

Bloody Best Bits: The fights. Both in the dream and the real world. Obviously.

16. Severance
A band of office co-workers from a weapon sales company meets grisly ends when mercenaries show up to make mince meat out of them. Chock full of laughs, gags and bloody mayhem, Anyone with smarts can find a chuckle-worthy time with this.

Bloody Best Bits: How hard is it for four people to remove a bear trap off their buddy's leg? Hard enough for them to mess it up and get said friend missing a limb. 

15. Inside/ A'Linterieur
On Christmas Eve, a lone pregnant photographer meets her worst nightmare on the form of a deranged woman breaking into her house to steal her baby straight out of her womb. What soon ensues is a body count, one mentally scarring film and a house with each room stained with blood.

Bloody Best Bits: There's this pretty grim scene where the villainess mercilessly murders a hooligan and then watches him death-rattle his way trying to hurt her. Of course, there's also the finale. (You cannot unsee it)

14. Urban Legend
An underrated 90s teen-kill, this fondue pot of slasher cliches passes with flying colors thanks to its creative streak of utilizing urban legends as the killer's MO, as the hooded maniac slashes their way through coeds in a murderous rampage.

Bloody Best Bits: I adore the opening murder, which is based on my favorite urban legend. Apart from that, there's also the pop-rock prank and one microwaved party animal.

13. The Burning (1981)
A vengeful groundskeeper returns to the old camp he used to work on to terrorize youngsters and counselors in a twisted sense of revenge. Accused of being a Friday the 13th rip-off, The Burning is a slow burn that does things right with brooding tension, a menacing killer and top-of-the-line gore effects courtesy of Tom Savini. 

Bloody Best Bits: The raft massacre.

12. Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning
Taking place some years prior the events of the 2003 Texas Chainsaw Massacre reboot, we watch how Thomas Hewitt turn from a disturbed meat packer to a powertool-wielding cannibal juggernaut. I really don't understand the hate for this title; I find the story more interesting than the slasher-standard remake this title is supposed to follow, plus the kills are a lot juicier with the red stuff. 

Bloody Best Bits: Thomas gets revenge on his boss, and does a money shot with him and his first chainsaw.

11. New Nightmare
Perhaps the most unique entry to the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, taking place in the "real world" where an evil entity takes the form of Freddy Kreuger and haunts Heather Langenkamp as he murders everybody dear to her.

Bloody Best Bit: The opening act involving a possessed movie prop in a murderous rampage. And then there's that one scene that kinda tugged a few strings for me: Heather's young son crying out to his imaginary dinosaur for help. Yeah, childhood fears, right there.

Next: The Honorable Mentions

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Spooked? Or Doomed?: Dead of The Nite (2014)

Dead of The Nite (United Kingdom, 2014)
Rating: **1/2
Starring: Tony Todd, Joseph Millson, Cicely Tennant

Found Footage and slasher films collaborate once again when investigating detectives uncover a video tape from a murder scene, in it recorded the last few hours of a five-team web-series crew hosting a live ghost hunt at the infamous (and fictional) Jericho Mansion.

According to the tale, there was once a disgruntled servant who murdered all of Lord and Lady Jericho's children before putting the sickle into himself, slicing off his face and putting a death curse on the land in which he'll return to slaughter anybody who dares enter the property. The land's caretaker (Tony Todd in a very small role) decided to humor the teens and allows them to do an overnight lockdown, investigating the manor themselves.

What they didn't know, however, is that they're not alone and something armed with a sickle has set its sight on picking them all off one by one.

One part supernatural, other part slasher, Dead of The Nite took a while before any of the gruesome stuff happens as the young investigators spend a good sample of their time doing some of the classic trappings in a supernatural horror flick, like setting up equipments and showing us the ropes, discussing the legend that they're supposed to be covering and even invoking the spirit by doing a ritual. (in this movie, the oh so popular Ouija board)

Seems to be going nowhere (save one scene that hints a shred of the paranormal) until a guy in a mask and hoodie shows up and starts hacking these teens up. It's kinda cool how this guy wants to show us the good stuff by holding the camera while he kills them but I have to admit it's still a bit hard to see a good murder if the camera shakes a lot. There are other shots present, but though due to the low-budget of the movie and probably to save some cash on effects, they're either  blocked in view by the killer or just occur offcamera and let the screams express the mayhem. The murders you do get to see, though, are kinda okay: despite shot in night-vision, they resemble the kind of slasher film hack'n stabs that you can find in any 80s released title, which is not bad.

Performances were rather good but feels a bit unimportant since the characters they play aren't all that interesting. Even the killer devolves from an intimidating silent stalker into a raving lunatic with a silly pompous mission, which is a shame; he's better off cool being mute and killing than gagging a victim and forcing them to listen to his cheesy I'm-the-guy-that'll-set-every-wrong-right monologues. Of course, there's a twist, or rather a surprise reveal, on who the killer is. It wasn't exciting and I find myself ho-humming the entire scene since I barely knew the guy outside his ramblings. 

So is Dead of The Nite a bad movie? Honestly, it has potential. I like the idea of found footage slasher movies and this one had a nice set-up and a darn slick looking killer. Unfortunately, the execution of the attacks and murders were arguably tricky and though this movie tries to make these scenes look menacing, it just wasn't enough. It's missing the blood and the creativity that make fans glued to these scenes, so, in a lack of a better description, the film's dry and tame.

Still, it's pretty ambitious so I could give the movie at least that. Dead of The Nite may not work all the way but concept-wise, it may worth a single night's rent.

1 male hacked on the neck with a sickle
1 female strangled, thrown down the stairs
1 female hacked to death with a sickle
1 female hacked to death with a sickle
1 male had his throat cut with kitchen knife
1 male had his neck broken
1 male killed with a sickle
Total: 7

A Girl and Her Dog Story: Madhouse (1981)

Madhouse (AKA "There was a Little Girl", "And When She was Bad") (Italy, 1981)
Rating: ***
Starring:  Trish Everly, Michael MacRae, Dennis Robertson

Fresh off the Video Nasty list this not-so-loving tale of two sisters, revenge of the twisted kind, and animal-to-human violence with a level of goriness welcomed by true fans of the grue.

Mary is woman with a flesh-eating sickness that began to eat away her face. She's also an institutionalized psycho who spent a good childhood torturing her twin sister, Julia, traumatizing her into fearing her presence.

True enough, Julia may have grown into a fine and caring teacher in a school for deaf children but deep inside she still feels uneasy about her insane sister (as anybody would) Her eccentric yet patient uncle insists, however, that she should make another effort bonding with her sister, seeing that she is still family and that both of their birthdays are not too far. Julia gave in to the suggestion and visited Mary to see how' she's doing; what Julia get in return to her compassionate gesture however is a threat from Mary with promises of further torment to her loving but generally frightened sister.

No sooner that night, Mary escaped, assisted by an unknown accomplice and now armed with a vicious Rottweiler trained to maul anybody in her orders. She now skulks around murdering anybody close to her sister until the fateful day arrives, where she had prepared the worst for dear Julia.

Shot with eccentricity and style similar to a giallo title (which should be no surprise since the entire film is an Italian production, confused as American thanks to an all -American casting) Madhouse had potential to be a grim and uneasy slasher movie due to its grit and very downbeat atmosphere, but some of the drawbacks falls on the movie's sluggish pacing and cheese-vs-serious-undertones that made this a weird film that can be a chore to watch.

The true joy of Madhouse is that it is gory, done in a delightfully creative twist that only a few slasher titles dared to try; while the killer prefers a classic knife stabbing for some of their victims, the bloodier and chunkier kills are all done through a mauling dog, which is quite nasty and considerably longer for intensity's sake. The camera often focus on the mutilated throats of these poor chaps and the make-up for them are some of the better ones this subgenre could offer. Perhaps this is the best reason to point out why this film was enlisted as one of UK's Video Nasties.

As said before, the movie works quite well in terms of moodiness thanks to a well tuned and haunting score that goes fittingly with the gothic location. The casts are strong despite a few strangeness on some of their characters, keeping on that note some odd set-pieces found along the way, like the reveal itself which I find tilting my head to in sudden confusion and intrigue. I'm sure that I may missed a few clues that foreshadowed this turn of events but it just came in so sudden that the leading climax is as frightening as it is servile, ending on a note that there might be no hope for anybody in Julia's family.

It's not a movie for everybody, but Madhouse is an exquisite example of a slasher movie that tries to break some boundaries; not enough by standards that it'll reinvent the face of horror but more of making itself quite memorable for the true fans. Elegant, creepy and sullen, this is definitely a must-see for slasherholics.

1 male mauled on the throat by a rottweiler
1 male knifed on the chest
1 boy mauled by a rottweiler offcamera
1 cat found hanged
1 female mauled on the neck by a rottweiler
1 female stabbed with a kitchen knife
1 female knifed on the gut
1 rottweiler powerdrilled through the head
1 male had his back hacked open with a hatchet
Total: 9

The Little Prairie Death House: Sisters of Death (1976)

Sisters of Death (1976) (AKA "Death Trap", "Death Time", "Death Time House")
Rating: *
Starring: Arthur Franz, Claudia Jennings, Cheri Howell 

It all began with an initiation involving what looks like a fake gun being shot over the heads of the new pledges to test their trust and loyalty. That was until they found out that a live bullet was inside one of its chambers and shot one of the pledges dead.

Seven years after the incident and after these girls drifted apart into their own lives, they're all mysteriously invited to a reunion. With an additional promise of $500 to pay for their expenses, the girls soon catch up and find out about the sinister truth about their invites: revenge.

It's no mean a traditional slasher as while the premise of trapped girls being bumped off one by one by a killer sounds promising for a bodycount film, most of the classic trappings of the sub-genre are missing in Sisters of Death. There's no need for POV shots since the killer is identified no sooner as the host reveals himself as the father of the murdered girl halfway into the movie and the killings begin only after since. Odd enough, this movie makes me wonder to who it's aiming for as everybody here are hardly believable in a cheesey-corny manner; normally one will try to outwit and find a way to survive a loon but one of these girls finds the time to take a shower or thought it'll be a swell idea to spell "SOS" in the middle of a desert. (Yes, the latter does sound like a good idea but judging of the size of the sign they made, I really doubt anybody will notice it) It's like these casts are begging to be killed and apparently ole' pap knows this cuz he is confident enough to spend some of his onscreen time making bullets and practicing his flute solo. (that last part wasn't a joke)

Can't say it's going to impress hardcore slasher fans too as majority of the kills are bloodless and some are even done off camera. It did use some good atmosphere that goes well with the movie's 70's grit but honestly, this is a relatively little praise compared to the number of flaws Sister of Death spat at us. Unless you prefer to enjoy bad movies for flaws' sake alone, this is hardly the kind of bad drive-in cinema you should be hunting for. Better off watching the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) than this dry dreck.

1 female shot on the head
1 female strangled with a cord
1 female found stabbed on the back with scissors
1 male electrocuted on a rigged fence
1 female bitten by a rattlesnake
1 female shot
1 male shot and fell to his death off a window
1 male shot
Total: 8