Saturday, May 23, 2015

StickyRed Presents: Pimp My Murder Weapons Volume 2

Last year, I made a post where in I shared my thoughts on this sub-genre's strangest "customized" murder weapons, pointy and deadly things wielded by our psychos to dispose dumb teenagers and random thespians, modified in the strangest manner.

Looking deeper into my collection, here be volume dos of these collected curiosities, fresh from the homicidal hands (or mouth) that held them!

Medical Monstrosities (Dr. Giggles (1992)) - In this early 90s cheese ride of all things cliched, the titular psychopath, who just happens to be the son of a deranged doctor, somehow had the time to design and invent his own slew of medical utensils, from tainted pills to syringes full of poison, to gas-powered stomach pumps with a rotating blade tip and giant band-aid plasters large enough to smother someone. It's cartoonishly crazy, but it fits the film's tone very well!

Pickaxe-catapult (Simon Says (2006)) - And just when you thought My Bloody Valentine's Harry Warden got the whole killer with a pickaxe shtick going, this film's Crispin Glover-played killer found 101 new ways to kill a person with one, mainly involving triggered traps and one pickaxe catapult! While the special effects used by the latter are dodgy, the whole idea of a catapult that swings out four pickaxes at the same time was and is pretty awesome!

Wearable Sword (Basement Jack (2009)) - Switching to this from a classic machete, the titular killer of this movie later wields a rather awesome looking blade; it's wearable and looks pretty badass, too bad the movie's gore effects are disappointing...

Van Trap (Creep Van (2012)) - Finding another use for creepy vans apart from being a bad guy's getaway vehicle, the random killer in this B-Grade slasher cooked up some rather over-the-top traps such as seat belts that crush and slice through victims and automated bladed sliding doors to make this van a literal hell ride.

A little clunky looking in terms of props and special effects, but it is more "realistic" in a way that the traps do look like something a demented maniac would had the capacity to make.

Hell Go-Kart (Leprechaun 2 (1994)) - And continuing with killer rides, this killer Leprechaun started his movie franchise by mauling his victims to death and  it wasn't until around the second film where we get to see more magic-induced kills, from hypnotizing someone into kissing a moving fan blade to, well, pulling out a killer go-kart out of hyperspace.

It's...something...but uh...killer go-kart? Really? So glad the third film is so much better...

Bladed Nailed Bat (Billy Club (2013)) - Attempting to do something different from your classic nailed bat, the folks behind the props of this movie did some slight modifications with the killer's murder weapon: a retractable machete blade that can be pushed out from the bat's head. Seeing what it could do, I am very impressed!

Cricket Kit (I Know How Many Runs You Scored Last Summer (2008)) - Taking revenge on his former cricket team mates, the mustachoid maniac from this slasher customized as many cricket apparels as possible, from spiked cricket bats, nailed-studded balls, and nailed groin cup. The result? Some fairly amusing murders. Too bad the characters aren't so interesting or likable to make the killings matter...

Lenghtened Chainsaw (Porkchop (2010)) - Not much to say about this except it's a weed whacker with a full working chainsaw replacing the saw end. How does it work? Not sure, but I'm picturing ole' Porky had to crank up the chainsaw first before holding on to the weed whacker body. Clunky design but works well for out-of-reach victims.

Poison-Tipped Cat Claws (Sette scialli di seta gialla/Crimes of The Black Cat (1972)) - And coming from this volume's only giallo entry, a slight variation to trained animals; if you can't count on your target being mauled to death by your chosen beast, why not hope for the alternative and taint the animal while you're at it? 

No, we're not talking about rabies, we're talking about poisoning their claws! Genius, you say? Well, not me; has the killer ever considered the fact that cats like to lick their own paws and rub it all over their faces in an adorable attempt to clean themselves? Yeah...

Chained Cleaver and Meat hook (Murderdrome (2013)) - The fire-breathing she-devil that is Mama Skate was a killer in her roller derby days. Literally. Armed with a chained meat-hook and cleaver, she's the star attraction of an underground blood sport known as Murderdrome and loved the spotlight so much that she started killer people off game. Even in her undead status, the cleaver-and-hook never looked so badass with a leather clad huntress! Me likey!

Droids (The Cheerleader Massacre 2 (2011)) - I don't consider killer bots as a weapon if they act on their own, but the tiny terrors of Cheerleader Massacre 2 are, however, handled by a killer in a bowler hat so I thought otherwise.

They're pretty cute, but cheaply depicted in the movie with low-budget CG which is why they don't sit pretty well with me. Still, I'm giving kudos for the producers of this flick for some attempts of originality.

Drill-Tar (The Slumber Party Massacre 2 (1987)) - Yeah, see, I'm one of the few who has no trouble enjoying this nightmarish entry to the slasher cycle and of its franchise. While the first Slumber Party Massacre features a plain killer with a plain powertool murder weapon, its sequel cashed in one Freddy Krueger's success and decided to concoct a rockabilly greaser from hell, armed with a drill-ended guitar! A Drill-tar!

Cheesy? Yes. Effective? Yes! Musical! Oh fucking yes!!! Blame it on my taste, but I will always love vintage rock-and-roll!

Steel Dentures (Luther The Geek (1990)) - Not sure how to feel about this; for one, I like the fact that the killer here's crazy enough to use his jaw strength to commit murders but it's not exactly subtle. You'll be leaving your DNA all over and that's never a smart thing to do as a slasher/serial killer.

Then again, the killer clucks like a chicken so I guess it doesn't matter. Goddamn Troma releases, luckily for them, I really enjoyed this one!

Cross-Mace (Sin Reaper (2012)) - From one 3D movie that no one would probably remember, the Sin Reaper sports a mean looking crucifix mace that, well, looks totally badass. Sadly, I remember nothing of the film except that the killer turned out to be somebody's brother or something. I should try watching it again but I'm just not feeling it. Cool weapon and killer get-up, though!

And there you have it. Again! Seen any new and/or odd customized weapon used in a slasher and/or giallo? Had I missed any of the ones from older titles? Feel free to tell me and I'll try to collect as many as possible for part 3 of Pimp My Murder Weapons!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Take me out to the Ball Grave: Billy Club (2013)

Billy Club (2013)
Rating: ****
Starring:  Marshall Caswell, Erin Hammond, Nick Sommer

What looked like a standard slasher movie with a baseball theme, imagine my surprise on how serious, sullen, and dark Billy Club ended up as a movie. Could this be a good thing in terms of production, or a bad thing in terms of my taste?

Beginning the film with a slight homage to the opening scene of A Nightmare on Elm Street, we watch a baseball bat being modified with nails and a retractable machete before being put to use against a drunkard in an alleyway one scene later. The killer then blowtorches away child’s face from a photograph, possibly as a countdown for each victim he will be killing. So far, only four faces are torched off, leaving the killer six more to hunt down…

We then shift our attention to four friends reunited at their home town, paying respect to their late little league team mates and coach who were all victims of a brutal massacre 15 years ago. The perpetrator, a bullied team mate named Billy Haskins, was caught the very night of his little spree and was sent away to a loonie bin where the four believes he is staying for good. Little do they know, Billy found a way out, still with vengeance in his mind, patiently murdering off each league member with his trusted nailed and rigged bat. It’s only a matter of time before Billy makes his way to their sleepy town and silence all that remains of the team for good.

The fact that the killer dresses up as an umpire and wields an ingenious murder weapon would have been an easy mark for a cheesy ride but, as mentioned, Billy Club is anything but that. The story has a good and patient look into the lives of our future corpses, showing how close they are as friends and how they are not all that perfect as a human being. Best way to describe our casts is that they’re simply stuck; they’re haunted by the past, hardly making anything for themselves which adds a sense of depth to these characters and makes them quite sympathetic if one would be patient enough to overlook some of their annoying quirks.

A sympathetic victim works best in horror movies because we can relate to them as humanely as possible and root for their survival or, at least, their redemption. Much of the main cast are saved by the killer for last, however, so just to remind you that you are indeed watching a slasher and not a coming-of-age flick, we are generously treated with some pretty good kill scenes committed against the less important grown-up little leaguers. These scenes are presented in an array of styles, from black-and-white to full color, all of them occurred in various dates prior to our main stories as flashbacks; I find this a pretty smart move to bulk up the kill count as it paces the story quite nicely without jeopardizing the flow and tone of the real plot. The murders themselves are pretty gory at times, but I am quite glad on the simplistic approach on some of them and the killer’s little own calling card on each victims (branding the corpses with their team number using a stamp and the ever-present blowtorch) was a delicious nice touch.

Despite looking like a sports-themed slasher, the latter part of Billy Club takes a modest backwoods approach which worked pretty well with the budget and the team’s technical skills. Around this time, the story goes quite deep and surprises us with a clever twist and one of the more downbeat endings I’ve seen in a movie of this sub-genre. Without saying much, the message of the film got into me and it was quite ominous, especially with the bullying undertones taken to quite a drastic matter.

Perhaps the only thing that didn't work well for me in this film was the so-called “humor”; with it being serious in its tone most of the time, it’s hard to find any of the jokes to be all that funny and I found myself more engrossed on how the story ends after all of this to notice any of the supposed funnies. I guess what I’m saying is that the atmosphere worked so well in bringing the dread and intrigue that the attempts to add some light-heartedness in this film seem futile. Not saying this is an overly bad thing but it may be a subject of taste.

Much like the 2010 indie President’s Day, I found Billy Club worthy of my patience ever since I first read about it back at 2013. It didn't fail to deliver all the goods one should find in a slasher movie; interesting and well-developed characters, a menacing looking killer, kills that are quite right, and a story that sounds basic but executed competently. Worth the wait and the viewing!

1 male bashed on the head with a nailed bat
1 boy beaten on the head with a bat
1 boy beaten on the head with a bat
1 male gets a bat shoved down his throat
1 male ran through with a retractable blade
1 female beaten to death with a nailed bat
1 male beheaded with a retractable blade
1 male had his face pulped with a nailed bat
1 male shot
1 male bashed on the head with a shovel
1 male stabbed on the gut with a broken bat, later shot to death by a baseball pitching machine
Total: 11

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Homicidal Aquaphobia: The Drownsman (2014)

The Drownsman (Canada, 2014)
Rating: ***1/2
Starring:  Michelle Mylett, Caroline Palmer, Gemma Bird Matheson

Slasher films are universally known for their splashy kills involving blunt objects and razor sharp edges. (Hence "slasher") The further this horror sub-genre go through the years, the bloodier and gorier the kills get; Hatchet, Laid to Rest and The Collector are some of the new age franchises that deliver the gooiest of splatter and visceral carnage, something that appease a lot of fans while turning off others. While gore is definitely something that will (and always) appease me in a slasher flick, the fact that some producers and directors out there think that messy deaths are all that matter for this sub-genre puts me in a position where I understand why there are horror fans out there getting tired of slashers.

This is also why I find The Drownsman an interesting entry.

The film focuses on Madison, a girl who gains an extreme aquaphobia after seeing a vision of a soaked corpse-like figure during a near-drowning the night she was made the Maid of Honor of her bestfriend Hannah's wedding.

When would they learn that nothing good will come from seances?
A year passes and Madison's fear prevents her from going to her Hannah's most joyous occasion, which happens to fall on a rainy day; obviously pissed and concerned, her friend gathers up their other gal pals and tries to fake a seance in order to prove Madison that there isn't anyone or anything in the water out to get her. Unfortunately, something is indeed lurking in the waters and the attempted seance somehow invoked it into hunting them down, pulling one girl at a time into its murky realm. With her friends now in dire trouble, Madison has no choice but to fight her fears and find the secrets in stopping The Drownsman.

The way I see it, The Drownsman is a workable look back at old school horror, not overly relying on gore and focusing instead on character development and some classic scares and thrills. It utilizes a supernatural slasher movie structure, giving us a menacing looking villain with a unique ability to travel and appear wherever water is and/or can be present, but the kills are bloodless (with the exception with a glass shard stabbing at the beginning of the movie) as each victim gets drowned in various means after being pulled into the killer's moist basement realm. It's is certainly a gamble among slasher fans who grew up associating the sub-genre with blood splatter and gore, but the build-up to these kills are skilled and effectively executed with practical effects. Not much to say if this is a good thing for many viewers but I myself find this a refreshing change of pace and idea among all of the chunky gore I've been seeing in my slashers lately.

Some cheese did get into the mix at times through silly scripts and some quirky characterization. Thankfully the main casts managed to pull off the odd premises with enough straight faces to keep them a likable bunch; Michelle Mylett goes to take on a classic example of a lead girl as Madison, though Caroline Palmer, as Madison's bestfriend Hannah, noticeably tackled a rather more expressive approach on her role. Some credits also goes to Ry Barrett as the titular monster; even if he spent most of his time slowly gurgling out names and look threatening in a soggy, supernatural killer kind of way, the fact that he had been doing all the water stunts in full make-up and effectively look creepy is indeed an achievement we rarely see in slasher movie nowadays.

The moist evil creature to swim your puddles!
Plot holes are, understandably in this sub-genre, ever present; how exactly did The Drownsman ended up in his state or why did Madison started seeing him after all of these years was never explained in detail. The latter, to be fair, was kinda clarified as a plot twist, but seeing the nature of this reveal, you just have to ask why it took the drenched killer that long to start haunting her? The film ends with a cliffhanger, obviously opened for a sequel, so I guess there are plans to answer these questions as a franchise? Not too sure about that but at least the film was an entertaining and well-produced round, gifted with a workable pacing, amazing camera work and well-shot lighting.

The Drowsman may as well be a welcome addition to new age slashers as not only did it tried and succeeded (at a level) to create something new out of the classic plot, but also packs enough thrills, scares, and twist to keep a fan satisfied. It may not look like much but it is a solid and well-recommended attempt.

1 female seen dead from drowning
1 male repeatedly stabbed with a glass shard, disappears
1 female drowned in a bathtub
1 female locked and drowned inside a metal coffin
1 female drowned in the lake underneath the floorboards
1 female chained by the neck and pulled into the lake, drowned
1 female drowned in a tank
Total: 7

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Never Have I Ever: Unfriended (2014)

Unfriended (2014) (AKA "Cybernatural", "Offline")
Rating: ***1/2
Starring: Heather Sossaman, Matthew Bohrer, Courtney Halverson

We all can agree that all of us were cyber-bullied at one point in our lives; may it be a hateful comment that led to a tirade of humiliation, or some troll's attempt to ruin someone else's life, we all can agree that this is a serious problem that is affecting children (and adults) differently. Unfriended is a "cyber-slasher" that took this theme in heart and gave us a simple plot revolving six friends facing a seemingly unstoppable presence.

Precisely a year since their classmate Laura Barnes committed suicide due to the humiliation she received from a raunchy Youtube video, token couple Blaire and Mitch was supposed to have a fun night chatting with each other and their friends online via Skype, only to discover that a random user had also logged in to their session. The user, "Billie", somehow hacked into Laura's account and begins to harass the gang with photos and videos taken from the night Laura's video was recorded; things go for the weird when all the usual features of each site they visit start to go haywire and Billie appears to have full control over each of these webpages.

When the hacker threatens the gang that it'll kill them if they hang up, it all turns deadly when, one by one, they fall victim to an unstoppable force that possesses them into killing themselves if they don't comply or lose to one of Billie's games. Friends are forced to confront and reveal their own secrets, leading them to go at each other's throats, all the while dying a horrific death. In the end, who will be left standing and what fate awaits them, courtesy of this "Billie"?

On a hindsight, Unfriended could have been another found-footage slasher movie with a cyberspace backdrop (I say "another" cuz we already have one last year, a far better entry known as The Den) but thanks to its twisted story and interesting premise, it still is an entertaining time-waster that honestly worked better as a video release.

The acting from the cast is the film's greatest achievement since everything is supposedly happening live via video chat. We see them panic with great effect, which is delightfully well orchestrated seeing that the situation they are supposed to be in is everything but in their control. Scares are limited to loud jumps at the end of each creepy build-up and while the kills are a bloody nice bunch ranging from a classic gun kill to a gory blender murder, much of the film's most intense scenes involve the psychological torment our cyberbullies are subjected to. I never played the game "Never Have I Ever" but seeing how it works in this film, I'm not sure I wanna play it whenever I have my drinks.

Perhaps the only flaw here is that the plot is partially predictable; it is simply another revenge-driven slasher with a cyber twist and a supernatural influence that increasingly became obvious as the film continues. In fact, one of the the film's original title, "Cybernatural", was a dead giveaway to this before the producers eventually settled with a more ambiguous "Unfriended", but seeing how the cast had been opening up webpages involving Facebook hauntings early into the film, the element of surprise was reduced to a red herring that didn't work too well.

Still, seeing these unfortunate souls get picked off one by one by a paranormal presence in revenge for being a-holes and hypocrites never gets tiring. It's a slasher, yes, but a fun and partially creative take to the classic stalk-and-kill if I may say so myself. If only we get to see some more blood and guts, and some more active scenes (like, maybe, the presence can pick up a webcam and stalk their victims and stuff?), I would have given this film a higher rating but, hopefully, the talks regarding this film's sequels would do just that. For now, Never Have I Ever enjoyed this film!

1 female shot herself with a gun
1 female seen dead, implied bleach ingestion
1 male had his throat shredded under a live broken blender
1 male shot on the face
1 female gets an iron curler shoved down her throat
1 male gets a kitchen knife to the eye
1 female killed, method unknown
Total: 7
(c) Google Images

Monday, May 4, 2015

Dying for Good Time? Stay Away From: The Last Slumber Party (1988)

The Last Slumber Party (1988)
Rating: *
Starring: Jan Jenson, Nancy Mayer, Joann Whitley 

You know you’re in for a bad time when the premise of a movie involves a mental patient successfully sneaking out undetected, by using pillows covered in bedsheets to trick doctors into thinking he is still inside his cell.  Yes, we are aware slasher movies are in it for the bad logic, but even a sub-genre that features seemingly mortal men surviving six gunshots has their standards; The Last Slumber Party overlooked this and went ahead to feature a plot so overused that its execution seems all over the place.

A gang of gals decides to throw their last slumber party together, unaware that a mental patient recently escaped from a nearby asylum where one of the girls’ father works at. He apparently fears that the docs were gonna drill holes into his head so to show them he can’t be toyed with, he crashes the girls’ party and kills everyone in sight.

Tediously paced, lazily directed, and woodenly acted, one might question how serious the producers were in making this movie. The story is as bare bone as any staple slasher movie out there that not even its “shocking” twist in the end can help it from being so uninteresting. Not to mention, the production value is so evident from its horrid editing and unimaginative camera work.

Sure, you can laugh at how bad it is in every way, like how our supposed lead gal simply walks off a dying friend who appeared right in front of her as if it's nothing, or the appearance of a one-time second killer that gets killed himself no sooner as he appears, but let’s all get the facts straight here: you’re laughing at a movie that had no passion and clear idea to what it wanted to do, which is just sad.

I try to be a fair guy for the many films I watch, but some like The Last Slumber Party just doesn’t cut it. Period. 

1 female slashed to death with a scalpel
1 male had his throat cut with a scalpel
1 male had his throat cut with a scalpel
1 male slashed to death with a scalpel
1 female knifed on the back (dream)
1 male had his throat cut with a scalpel
1 female gets a throat offcamera
1 female found stabbed on the back
1 female found with a throat cut
1 male knifed on the gut
1 male had his throat cut with a scalpel
1 female had his throat cut with a scalpel
Total: 12

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Cheese Will Have The Power: Shocker (1989)

Shocker (1989) (AKA "Shocker: No More Mr. Nice Guy")
Rating: ****
Starring: Michael Murphy, Mitch Pileggi, Peter Berg 

First of all, yes. I gave this horrendous movie four stars. It's no joke, this is how much I love this movie and how much I found it entertaining.

Made under a low-budget and shot in a matter of 10 weeks, Wes Craven's oddity of an effort is an attempt to create a new slasher franchise to cash in which, sadly, did not succeed due to the film bombing on the ratings. Of course, this is bound to happen from the wrong audience, but for the right mindset and taste, Shocker was and still is a whole lot of hokey fun!

Jonathan is a football star at a local highschool raised by a foster family, loved by his team mates like a brother, and is in a stable relationship with his girlfriend, Alison. But for some unexplained reason, he suddenly gained the ability to dream and materialize in places where an elusive family-killing TV repair man named Horace Pinker is at, the first among these encounters involving his foster mum and siblings falling victim to Pinker.

Upon waking up, Johnathan is informed by his lieutenant father of the killings; when he tries to explain that he saw the whole thing in a dream, he was understandably scuffed off by his father until he vividly described the murders as well as vital clues to the identity of the killer. Seeing that lead is a lead no matter how crazy it sounds, his father let him tag along during a raid at a local TV repair place where Horace eludes them and kills his way into escaping, now knowing that his identity is jeopardized by Jonathan's sudden gift.

As an attempt to taunt and warn the footballer, Pinker murders Alison, leaving Jonathan completely distraught and hellbent on exacting revenge on him. After another attempt to locate him by dream, Jonathan, along with a few friends and his father's squadron of cops, finally corners Pinker and have him executed via electric chair.

Unfortunately, Pinker had another trick up his sleeve; not only is he crazy, knife-happy and limp on a leg, but he also practices black magic. So before his execution, he made a bargain with the Devil (or a TV demon for all I know) to have him come back as pure sentient electricity, with the ability to surge through bodies into possessing them, travel by air waves, and simply bend reality via TV.

Now with an executed serial slasher stalking and hunting him in bodies that may or may not be possessed, Jonathan is soon forced to brave it all and battle Pinker in the end with wits, channel surfing, and the power of love. I kid you not!

With a weak script, cutout characters that are obviously influenced by his other films (albeit more stereotyped this time around), and a story that's as crazy as a schizophrenic loon on drugs, we can tell Mr. Craven here was on a desperate move to gain something for himself, which reminds me of the same craziness he attempted back in 1985 which resulted to the slasher The Hills Have Eyes Part II. Much like that film, Shocker heavily relies on cheese to entertain the masses and like the aforementioned slasher sequel, this film somehow found a way to make it all fit in the right places and make it work; granted that the acting is a questionable case and the plot is as convoluted as it tries to do a lot of things in a matter of 100 minutes, the film thrives on its own silliness and gave us strangeness involving limp killers somehow overpowering families into massacring them, the love represented in a victim's necklace is enough to weaken and drive out a now demonic serial killer, TV remotes as weapons, or the fact that no one ever finds a rusty old TV Repair van as suspicious, among many things.

The pacing is quick, with the first third being the most slasher-esque in terms of bodycounting, before slowly shifting to a stab-happy sci-fright flick with over-the-top effects and situations that's just simply fun to poke and laugh at. The reek of 80s air is everywhere from bad hair to awesome heavy metal sountrack. (Dudes of Wrath were gods for their song Shocker, which is also this film's opening tune) And then there's Mitch Pileggi as Mr. Pinker himself; good God, for a film with weak writing, Pileggi's crazy performance as Pinker instantly made the character an anti-hero for me! Not as big as Freddy but with the proper story and finance, he could have been!

Perhaps I'm giving Shocker a lot of praise for sentimental value here; I first saw this movie while I was at my second year in college and I was stricken with Dengue. I had this film downloaded in my (late) laptop and I strangely found the film comforting. And just to make sure it wasn't the fever or the drugs talking, I decided to watch it again weeks after I was cured and released, and yet I still find it entertaining. I dunno, perhaps it really is just a matter of taste that gave Shocker an audience; it is not for everyone but I found myself under the wing of those who sees this as a cinematic failure that's work loving and respecting for the effort and this is definitely something I am proud to live with!

Should you be on it for the cheese or just to see how bad/good it is, Shocker certainly needs to be seen to be believed!

1 male seen murdered
1 female seen murdered
1 male found murdered
1 female and 1 girl murdered offcamera with a knife
1 male killed, later found with throat cut
1 female knifed on the gut
1 male gets a throat cut with a knife
1 male found stabbed and strangled with a chord
1 female knifed to death
1 male executed via electric chair
1 male had his head twisted
1 driver and 1 female immolated in tank explosion
1 male "wears out", dies
1 male shot on the back
1 male found slaughtered
1 male knifed on the chest
1 victim seen murdered
1 female seen murdered
1 child seen murdered
Total: 21
(Note: Due to the unknown state of some of the people Pinker possessed, those that was not given a clear indication if they're dead or not are not included on this list)

With Pinker, TV watches YOU!