Saturday, September 27, 2014

Random Can Be Deadly: Blood Was Everywhere (2011)

Blood Was Everywhere (2011)
Rating: ***1/2
Starring: Ashley Arnold, Kimberly Simone, Larry Holden

Remember Final Exam (1980)? That slasher flick where we spent an entire hour looking into the lives of students and suddenly gets a random killer on the loose with little to no explanation? Well, it's time to feel Deja vu as looks like somebody under the name of Jason Torey tackles this concept in this magnificent piece of indie.

Originally an independent remake of Friday the 13th (but reworked into an original feature after the director found out Platinum Dunes remade that movie in 2009), Blood centers around a small Massachusetts town as it suddenly gets an unfortunate visit from a faceless and nameless killer who have made a habit on sneaking into people's houses and murder anyone he could find there. With this, expect the unexpected as the plot technically lacks a single protagonist or a single focused group as random citizens from an entire town are simply characters, some of which we do get to look into, which may or may not lead to anything and we go on watching these folks' daily lives while our killer makes small appearances, mainly through POV or a simple shot of his shoes, hands or his body on the neck down, skulking around and studying his prey before he comes for the kills.

What I enjoy from this movie is that, even with the unconventional plot flow, it works very well to keep up the tension as we literally have no idea what's going to happen next and we don't know whether we should worry for the characters' fates, or not. Just think of this experience as entering a real town, some place you never knew, and then suddenly you're hearing news of an entire family being murdered inside their own home. That feeling of fear and anxiety is something this movie tried to accomplish but the effectiveness of it relies heavily to how well you can take the narrative, as well as how far you could ignore the amateurish acting and delivery from its casts.

Of course, this placed the film at a risk of disconnecting itself from its viewers, as a slasher with little casts to support and/or connect to tends to lose its impact. Those who were hoping for a traditional slasher film may be disappointed with it's steady pacing and plentiful fillers involving characters going through their lives which almost made this film lacking of a solid story, but rest assured, there will be blood. The murders are Godsent traditional and bloody without going viscera-mad on us, kinda like your classic 80s sets of murders where things are simple yet messy. Once the killer do make his presence known, expect the faceless mute maniac to do his worse, all in the standards of realism and savagery of a home invasion.

Completed with a budget of fifty grand, Blood Was Everywhere is a delightfully harrowing movie that shows what true talent and skills can do for homemade horror movies. Unique, tainted and agreeably bloody, best to keep a free mind when watching this and try to forget some of what you already knew about the slasher sub-genre to fully enjoy this gem.

1 male bludgeoned to death
1 male knifed on the neck
1 female gets a throat cut with a boxcutter
1 male found hacked to death with a hatchet
1 male hacked to death with a hatchet
1 male gets a throat cut offcamera
1 male stabbed on the gut with a knife
1 male knifed to death
1 female knifed on the head
1 female beaten to death offcamera with a baseball bat
1 male had his face beaten with a baseball bat
Total: 11

It Seams A Little Tired: The Seamstress (2009)

The Seamstress (Canada, 2009)
Rating: *
Starring:  Kailin See, David Kopp, James Kirk

Uh, yeah, we know what revenge means.
It's in almost EVERY slasher movie ever made!

Take everything you know about backwoods slasher/monster features (as in teens in the woods having sex for fun dying one by one), put in a floaty J-Horror-like ghost with needles for fingertips as our villain, and one uninteresting mystery involving a teen girl looking for answers to why her dad suddenly changed his personality before disappearing in said woods (obvious answer, he's involved some way with the villain's current supernatural state) and you get The Seamstress, a rather uninspired mess that tries to do an effort to create a possible new face of horror but fails to.

Why? Characterization, flow and plot. The casts aren't exactly terrible, but the characters they play are as flat as flapjacks and barely stands out in anyway except that a couple here's newly engaged and another has some sort of tired love-triangle with the main gal. Our protagonist, even, is laughable in her current semi-depressed state; played by Kailin See from Decoys 2: The Second Seduction (2007), she shows that she really means business in her mystery-solving hoo-ha by readily accusing and yelling at one of the townfolks who last saw her dad, calling him a murderer the moment she saw him. Yeah, so much for rooting for our heroes.

To salt our wounds, the movie runs for 76 minutes but it took about 45 before they get the action going. In media res, we are treated to witness an "offscreen" torture session with the town's local sheriff as he mutilates a possible vigilante who, like Kailin See's character's father, may have something to do with The Seamstress. And with her being said, this monster isn't even all that terrifying, intriguing or even memorable. She comes out being an amalgamation of the Tooth Fairy from Darkness Falls (2003) and Sadako Yamamura/Samara Morgan from The Ring series, with a whispery voice and armed with needles which she uses to sew people's eyes shut as well as a stabbing weapon (I'm aware how small it is but she made it work), but has the unfortunate luck of having an origin story-slash-motive that's really worn out for our standards. (And yet the script tries to make it look like as if this is all new and unique.)

The end result is a tirade of tired backwoods shenanigans and vengeful ghost cliches. No cast to care for, no villain to root for and definitely no twists to shock us. Production has some quality but the flashy editing and CG effects shows how much was spent and judging from what I've seen, not enough to make The Seamstress work at all.

1 male buried down the neck, tortured to death
1 male found dead with his eyes sewn shut
1 female thrown to a bonfire
1 female stabbed on the neck with a needle
1 male murdered offcamera
1 male stabbed on the chest with a needle, fell down a well
1 male shot on the face
Total: 7

Slipping into Conspiracies: Coma (1978)

Coma (1978)
Rating: ****
Starring: Michael Douglas, Rip Torn, Geneviève Bujold

Okay, no, this is not a slasher film. It's a medical thriller directed by the one and only Michael Crichton, who book lovers would know as the guy responsible for the novel Jurassic Park in which the dinosaur blockbuster movie was based on. I decided to give this movie a spot here for the reason that it heavily influenced some later examples of slashers, may it be the good, the bad, or the really awful, in terms of with it's superb use of paranoiac fear and tension.

Coma revolves around a seemingly healthy patient (who just underwent a routine abortion) suddenly slipping into a coma. Her devastated bestfriend, a resident surgical doctor named Susan Wheeler (Genevieve Bujold), decided to look into the events and figure out what could have caused the complication, only to notice a repeating pattern of healthy patients going brain-dead in their hospital for quite some time over the years. Dwelling further to what may be a conspiracy within her colleagues, Susan has no choice but to look into these cases herself, all the while escaping the grasp of a hired stalker and deciding who to trust or to avoid.

A mature thriller that focuses more on the amateur sleuth work of our heroine doctor, most of the slasher elements here are missing but the stalk-heavy scenes midway into the movie strikes a lot of resemblance to our horror sub-genre. In addition to this, there's also the motive, which is something that will been done for a bit on our more modern entries like Turistas (2006) or Train (2008), making Coma the groundwork for these titles. The only difference between this film and those titles (apart from their budget) is that Coma succeeds in making itself darker in a "less-is-more" fashion.

The horror here relies more on fringe factor, as in with the premise being a high class and well-bred hospital, full of professional staffs who were meant to be trusted, aren't far from dirty and gritty third-world conspirators. There is another side to their clean demeanor that may spell the end for their patients and just in case you hadn't figured out the connection between this movie and the two others I mentioned above, then you're in heck of a surprise for what they'll do to someone with a healthy kidney.

The realism of the film also helps add the fear factor as the conspirators' method is scientifically sound and may be replicated in real life. Of course, there's also a bit of visual fantasy played around for showcase; I love the bit where our heroine takes a tour to an affiliated facility known as the Jefferson Institute, where coma victims are taken to for treatment and monitoring, which mostly involves having these patients hoisted in the air by a system of wires and cables. The concept is visually haunting, portrayed with an Italian Giallo-like overtones and inspires a sense of awe one only can get from something ingenious, fitting since this room became a bit of a sale art for both the film and the Robin Cook Novel it was based on.

It's a bit slow at first but when we finally got our first onscreen coma case, the movie begins to pick pace and fluidly moves forward thanks to Bujold's rootable performance. We also have Michael Douglas here in one of his earliest big screen movie roles as Dr. Mark Bellows, an on-off lover of our heroine with a well-played friend-or-foe characterization, adding up once more to the paranoiac tension our casts had to deal with that is best described as Hitchcockian.

It's a little outdated but Coma works pretty good; like a gothic horror mystery with a clean-cut hospital for a backdrop, this movie has twists, shocks and thrills awaiting for you beyond the white halls as a sinister plan goes unveiled one scene at a time.

1 female slips into a coma, later dies from complications
1 male electrocuted against a generator
1 male found dead
Total: 3

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Cybercrime That ain't worth Time: Cam2Cam (2014)

Cam2Cam (2014) (AKA "C2C, Darknet")
Rating: *1/2
Starring: Tammin Sursok, Ben Wiggins, Sarah Bonrepaux

Slasher movies involving cyberspace are not the likeliest bunch to really work out there. At least, not without getting some criticisms on their attempt to mix our modern social elements with something as cliched as bodycount horror films.

Still, sometimes it's all in the delivery: CRY_WOLF (what could be considered as the earliest example of these films) has a watchable direction despite its lack of real sizable killcount, 2009's Chain Letter got the gore going in favor over a cheesy plot, and perhaps 2013's The Den might be the only title to make this slasher variation creepier than it should be! But of course, with the likes of others like Smiley (2012) and iMurders, there will always be flawed ones and Cam2Cam sadly falls in with these clutter.

Taking place in Thailand, we begin with a lengthy scenario involving a woman, alone in her cheap apartment, playing tease with another woman at a video chat site. What started as a kinky play soon escalates to a vulgar and creepy conversation, and it's a tad too late to back out now as our girl notices her chatmate was stripping while the message was being typed and whoever it was on the other side of the site knew what she is doing. (Think the opening for Scream, with less star power and more cybertalk)

The woman's geeky-looking neighbor shows up, supposedly checking on her until he reveals that all of this is his doing, viciously beheading her after a lengthy monologue about how he's tired of being treated as shit by women.

A few weeks later, we now follow Allie (Pretty Little Liar's Tammin Sursok), a visiting student who wanted to party hard in Thailand while she takes a year off campus. She finds a place to stay in a dirty looking apartment complex and she befriends a group of highly accented English-speaking foreigners who, after some night of partying, introduces her Cam2Cam, a paysite where people can buy time to watch other people do the sickest and the most bizarre sexual deviancy over the web.

Note, the apartments and the site were the same ones from the opening kill so if this is to say anything, we can easily tell these kids may have something to do with the murder but just about half an hour into the movie, our killer suddenly kills himself by jumping unto an incoming truck, thus thickening our plot into something unexpected.

Or will it?

The problem with Cam2Cam was, after the killer commits suicide, it all went downhill: with little to no characters to care for thanks to the bland development of both the story and cast. The movie turns into a chore of a watch where the twists can be seen from a mile afar and a lack of atmosphere just made it dull to the very bone. The sadder part was that this tile felt like it never reached at least half of its full potential, with the lack of blood making it too dry for a slasher fanatic, the twists are too obvious and messy for mystery fans, and the scares too cliched to impress a horror junkie.

Honestly, the only thing that worked here was the opening, even if we can easily tell that the scenario smelled trouble the moment we notice the supposed live feed looping and the chats type themselves. All the goodness of a slasher thriller was molded on that first fifteen minutes alone and soon to be exploited uselessly for the next hour (yes, this film's running time was a short one. Felt longer, though.)

I can also see this is trying to capture the dark and grimey underworld of Asia (which is always ugly no matter how you look at it. I should know, I live in one!) but the exploitation angle limps uncomfortably if this is the only support the producers were aiming for to rally up the rest of the movie. You ought to think I should be used to this kind of trash by now but let me tell you this: there's redeemable trash and then there's utter garbage. Cam2Cam's overflowing flaws that outnumbered the good threw it straight into the garbage heap.

Obviously, I'm not too impressed. I'll subject myself to the dreaded Chain Letter and/or Smiley over this anytime.

1 female beheaded with hatchets
1 male ran over by a truck
1 female found beheaded
1 male hacked to death with a hatchet
1 male hacked on the back with a hatchet
Total: 5

Friday, September 12, 2014

Threesome Terrors: Murder University (2012)

Murder University (2012)
Rating: ***
Starring: Samantha Acampora, David Adams Murphy, Dave Almeida

Some of the box art for this film shows a rather grim and serious shot of a victim cowering before somebody with an axe; little do some suckers know that, though there is a maniac with an axe (actually, three maniacs!), Murder University is anything but serious and grim, that is until the final half hour.

Taking place in a fictional Greensboro College in 1983, Josh is a freshman who just couldn't fit in with the weird and hokey people around campus, probably because he's the son of somebody with a bit of history there. All things go for the worse when he gets captured by a trio of masked cult murderers and witnessed some slayings. 

Josh survives the ordeal after finding a chance to escape his captors and is forced to team-up with a detective who's on this case for quite some time and, too, his daughter who obviously took quite a liking to Josh the moment they met. As the kill count rises to double digits, it's only a matter of time before this trio of unlikely company finds the truth behind these killings, with a twist that comes rather offbeat and dark.

Murder University resembles a Troma movie minus the crude gross-outs and more on the weird; Jamie DuFault's character Josh may as well be the only normal guy around and he's getting into a lot of trouble just for being one. His roommate's a dorky looking ladiesman who wears "I'm a Virgin" shirts and works in stripper bars, his professor profanes as a part of his teaching regime, and we all can't help but feel that every student and staff in this university are out to get our lead guy, even if some of them were meant to help him. More or less, the lack of any serious character here did kinda help us root for our lead as he is the only one with some real sense around, which also makes the sudden grim turn in the last third of the movie quite effective.

In fact, while I'm not too keen with the kind of humor Murder University's approaching, I love the fact they kept the slasher/horror elements as straight as possible, even delving into the thrill once in a while thanks to the healthy helping of chase scenes. The kills are sort of repetitive, unfortunately, limited to a series of axe hackings and beheading, with only a slight chance for the killers to get creative and pick something else as a murder weapon. (And when they did, it disappointingly shown as a black and white video shown to taunt our leads) Still, the lack of CG in these murders is a nice touch, staying true to the 80s heydays that this movie is taking tribute to.

Then there are the technical aspects; camerawork and lighting has this giallo-esque take with candy tinting and editing done away with grained details. It's picturesque and fitting to the supposed decade the story takes place in, remarkable seeing how fair the budget was.

But what really impressed me about Murder University is its unpredictability; right in the beginning we're treated to something we didn't quite see coming from your classic a group of opening victims and these unusual twists venture further into the movie as unexpected character deaths and changes swarmed crucial moments with enough shock factor to keep this low-budget gem memorable in its best. May it fail to provide a workable comedy element, the movie still have a fair amount of pros to at least make a satisfying viewing. It could have been worthier should the directing kept the entire thing a "straight" 80s slasher tribute but, as even the dumbest flick out there would have their own following, Murder University will definitely have its own.

1 male knifed on the gut
1 male head found
1 female beheaded with an axe
1 female hacked on the chest with an axe
1 female decapitated with an axe
1 male murdered offcamera, heart cut out
1 female had her throat cut until beheaded with a knife
1 female decapitated with an axe
1 female ran over by a truck, hacked with axes
1 male gets a throat cut with a knife (flashback)
1 female slashed to death with a knife (flashback)
1 female beheaded with an axe
1 male scalped with a kitchen knife
1 male had his crown sliced off with an axe
1 male killed offcamera
1 male found mutilated
1 female beheaded with an axe
1 female shot
1 male found gutted
1 female knifed on the gut (film)
1 female shot on the head (film)
1 male smothered with a plastic bag (film)
1 male had his neck broken
1 male had his neck broken
1 male axed on the gut
1 male gets an axe-pick to the head
1 male axed on the gut
1 male shot
Total: 28

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Don't Go And See: The Movie House Massacre (1984)

The Movie House Massacre (1984) (AKA "Blood Theatre")
Rating: *
Starring: Mary Woronov, Jenny Cunningham, Jonathan Blakely

From the mastermind who brought us the atrocious Hobgoblins (1988) comes this unlikely 80s slasher entry which may as well be a fine example of how the sub-genre was losing its cool in the latter part of that decade.

Opening act; some sweaty looking theater manager goes around the joint searching for his lover and eventually finds her cuddling with another guy. Distraught from what he just saw, sweaty guy sets one of the film reels on fire backstage and, well, gassed his patrons to death. (You would think a roll of film (which is mostly nitrate) would ignite at this point and set the building ablaze but no, all we see is a theater smoking up in a minute and a bunch of people lying on the floor, supposedly dead. Also, sweaty theater manager knifed the ticket lady to death just for the heck of it.)

Fast forward some years later, the seedy manager of the equally seedy Spotlite Theaters is expanding to their eleventh location, which so happens to be the same movie house where the opening massacre occurred. (of course) He sends three of his employees to spiffy up the place so they can have it ready for the grand opening night, without pretty much telling them of the place's history.

Don't ask why he didn't. I was busy chanting a mantra for myself to finish the film and do a fair review here just for you blokes and gals, so I may have missed it. All I know is that there was a promised $1000 bonus on their paycheck, so a projectionist, his girlfriend and some random guy who barely did anything (all of them teenagers) agree to help. Soon, they start experiencing spooky things like doors suddenly locking up, stuffs flipping over, smoke coming out of nowhere, and there's an old guy in a tux and a knife killing random teens that goes inside the theater for God knows what reason.

This is as far as the plot goes for clarity and it's kinda all there is too it. The actual execution of the movie have more "random unfunnies" that fail miserably, inexcusably outrageous cheesy characters, blood-dry death scenes (one guy gets beheaded and there's hardly any blood spurting out of those stumps) and countless plot holes that really (and I mean really) show no one knows what exactly is going on with this movie.

There are scenes that could have been (or was) intentionally hilarious but with the overall tone of the movie and the badly acted parts? Yeah, nothing kills a gut-busting laugh faster than overcooked (or undercooked) performances sided with a zero budgeted production. Heck, you can tell how desperate this movie was to top whatever slasher title popular then when they decided to suddenly give our killer supernatural powers even if the opening act barely made any indication for such a thing. For all we know it could be the ghosts of his victims haunting the place but they appear to be assisting their killer so I'm not too hot for that explanation myself. Even with this "development", The Movie House Massacre hardly lived by its title with most of the murdering happening offcamera (or hardly seen due to the lighting. Again, zero budget) and, well, it's just too silly to satisfy a blood crave. (A victim died sliding down against a wall while some supernatural wind blew at her. Must be death by ghostly orgasm.)

Incompetent, unsatisfying and simply shit, The Movie House Massacre is that one kind of movie you just have to see to know how bad it is. So bad that many tried to keep their sanity by pretending this is a slasher spoof; might have worked a lot better that way but, again, it's not even "so-bad-it's-funny" funny. With no shred of excitement, originality and at least a single working element to go by, just take our word for it and leave this slob alone unless you're to poke fun at it.

1 female knifed to death
A number of people seen dead (by fire, smoke or whatever explanation you can come up with)
1 female knifed
1 female knifed to death
1 female killed offscreen
1 female knifed to death
1 female cooked inside a popcorn machine (dream)
1 female killed offcamera
1 male electrocuted against a projector
1 male beheaded
1 female killed (by sliding down against a wall)
1 male knifed on the back
Total: 11+
Least I could use this screencap for something...

Monday, September 1, 2014

The One Boll Didn't Direct: Seed 2: The New Breed (2014)

Seed 2: The New Breed (US/Canada, 2014) (AKA "Blood Valley: Seed's Revenge")
Rating: **
Starring: Natalie Scheetz, Nick Principe, Caroline Williams

Why on Earth would anyone be interested in doing this? I mean come on, did Uwe Boll's film Seed really needed a follow-up? With almost little to no horror junkies out there supporting that movie, where is the point of marketing a franchise surrounding a film so utterly unlikable and pathetic even for a trashy horror film?

I guess if someone else would direct it, the film could work, so let's all thank the gods that this was the case; Boll only acted as the producer for Seed 2: The New Breed and handed the directorial job to Marcel Walz, a German director who apparently had done a lot of horror films which I've never seen or heard of before. (Not that I'm ashamed of that fact. I do have a life outside horror!)

Here, we follow four bachelorettes driving through the desert after their party last night but only to meet some strange fellows along the way before being stranded due to a dead car engine. Around this time, a mysterious police woman offered her help to them but unknown to the girls, she's simply leading them to meet a good friend of hers: Max Seed, the star murderer of our prior movie.

I will say that the only good thing these Seed films seem to do is that they come up with some pretty shocking (and sometimes disturbing) scenes; the first did this by showing us real black-and-white footages of a fox hunters abusing and skinning foxes alive, had a part where a baby is starved to death and, perhaps its most notorious, show us a lengthy scene where a chair-tied woman was bludgeoned to death with a hammer. (which is, as unflinchingly mean-spirited it is, done away in CG) Sadly, as shocking as these scenes are, the empty plot vouched nothing for the first movie, making it a rather pointless bodycounter which sole purpose is to upset us blood, gore and violence. Seed 2 is nothing different; it's still a messy, plotless dreck that seems to be a mix of 2003's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and 2006's The Hills Have Eyes reboots, only it does the tension play a little better and it's hardly boring.

Perhaps the interesting bit about Seed 2 is that decided to do a non-linear plot flow similar to Tarantino's classic crime thriller Pulp Fiction, where, starting from the second act, scenes are jumbled as we see victims killed, injured or left alive in one moment but seen alive later otherwise. It's like a huge puzzle where we get to piece things together and once we do...

uh, well, not much really.

As mentioned before, Seed 2 is still generically plotless, with its gimmicky time-jump story-telling the only thing that made the tension working for it. It's no different from the other misogynistic new age slasher/torture porn hybrids out there, with a "big" reveal that, while it ties this film with the first, isn't really all that amazing. (Honestly, the movie could still function without this twist) There's grit in its kills and torture awaits for each victim (thanks to the effects work of Ryan "Gutterballs (2008)" Nicholson), but some of the elements just don't go too well. (There's some religious mumbo going on with our killers, which is strange considering there's no hint of Max Seed being a religious nut in the first.)

Not gonna lie, this is "sort-of" an improvement from the first, but I'm not too hot for this franchise yet. Maybe if they try something a little deeper without boring us to death (or, as I like to put it in my own terms, "Boll-ing it"), I might give consider another Seed movie a go. For now, Seed 2 is trash, but its a considerably watchable trash.

Bodycount: (in chronological order)
1 female had her neck crushed
1 male stabbed on the neck with a rail spike
1 male disemboweled with a kitchen knife, strangled with his own innards
1 female shot on the groin
1 female shot on the head
1 male bludgeoned with a hammer
1 female gets a broken neck
1 male had his throat cut with a machete
Total: 8