Sunday, June 28, 2015

Thor's Exit: Bludgeoned (2002)

Bludgeoned (2002) (AKA "No Tomorrow")
Rating: ***
Starring: Gary Houston, Marisa Juliette Dugas, Brendan Hutt

Hardly seen or heard, this possible StickyRed exclusive is about a boy, his hero, and a book.

Rick Carpenter is a high schooler with an obsession for violence unlike many; while some outcasts retreat to their violent fantasies via movies or video games, Rick finds comfort in expressing his darkest dreams through writing, inspired by his single most favorite book, Thor's Exit.

His passion for the book leads him to attend the author-turned-creative writing teacher Michael Christman's class, but Rick's disappointed when he finds out his "hero" cared very little for the book. This breaks him into picturing the book's titular anti-hero, Thor (or as the villain prefers to be called, "Maluch") to appear whenever Rick dreams, further fueling his already deranged state. As his days become harder and more grueling, Rick contemplates further if life is really nothing more but a dream and that he himself has the power to be whatever he wants to be or do. Like kill.

With a story like this, it's less of a slasher movie and more of an angst-filled coming-of-age drama; while the horror elements are ever present, they're mostly dreams and visions that are in Rick's head and much of it seems to be building up to something powerful and violent. Because of this, majority of the play time have us watching one disturbed kid go through life in his eyes, which is really no more than random tidbits of events, few of the good and plenty of the bad.

It works in a level as the acting around its casts is pretty decent for a low-budget thriller and the development of Rick's psychosis did kept me glued to see how bad will he end up once he grabs that hammer.

Unfortunately, this is where Bludgeoned disappoints; for a movie that focuses on a young adult's sick dreams of becoming a homicidal madman, the big payoff felt like more should have been done for it. We did have some deserving victims falling to Rick's madness, true, but these attacks and murders were packed in the last act of the story, meaning very little was done and more deserving candidates for his bludgeoning were left alone in an open ending. While we all can assume he had gone to finish them at the end of the movie, it wouldn't hurt to have a few more crushed skulls and broken bones presented for us on camera seeing that the film was being marketed as a horror flick. Then again, it could just be me.

I'm not going to lie, though I enjoyed watching this as an intrigued character study, I can't recommend it to just anyone as I can tell this is for a selected taste. I would go and even say May (2002) is a better candidate to satisfy your teen drama-thriller-horror cravings but if you love obscurities with some potential watchability, give Bludgeoned (or No Tomorrow as it is called in some release) a go. That is if you can find it.

1 male ran through with a sledgehammer's handle (dream)
1 male bludgeoned with a sledgehammer (dream)
1 male brained with a claw hammer
1 male bludgeoned to death with a sledgehammer
1 female found mangled down the stairs
1 male bludgeoned with a sledgehammer
1 male bludgeoned to death with a sledgehammer
Total: 7

Backpackers Spare Ribs: Charlie's Farm (2014)

Charlie's Farm (Australia, 2014)
Rating: ***
Starring: Tara Reid, Nathan Jones, Kane Hodder

Charlie's Farm came to my interest while I was browsing for new horror releases back at 2013. I stumbled upon one of its promotional artwork, which featured one would assume as Charlie, sitting triumphantly on a mound of skulls whilst other slasher icons lay dead around him.

They're actually crowning him as horror's new king. New king!

I will go as far as say that he might have a chance against Leatherface, Mick Taylor and Michael Myers (Let's face it guys, Michael Myers may have survived gunfire but he is still human. The only reason he lived to star in sequels was because no one ever tried decapitating him. Which is why I kinda cheered at the end of Halloween H20...don't hate me), but Jason Voorhees? The guy who literally just came back from the dead out of pure will in Freddy vs Jason? Or Freddy for that matter?! Literally a demon that haunts and kills you in your dreams!

Perhaps it was to hype us up on how badass this new movie monster is gonna be and after seeing it, he kinda is but he lacked something...

Charlie's Farm is stripped down to the basic slasher bone as this is really nothing more than another gory take on the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre with a bit of Madman (1982); A local legend tells of a family that once lived at the titular farm in the outbacks. The family consisted of a deranged cannibal couple and their mentally handicapped son, hunting down those who strayed too near to their farm. When the townsfolk had enough of their evil ways, they murdered the couple but decided to leave their boy Charlie for dead, believing he wouldn't survive in the wilderness on his own. Some say the boy never really existed, others believe he is still alive, slaying people over the years, but four backpackers decided to visit the infamous barn just for the sense of thrill and for curiosity's sake.

Despite the warnings of the townsfolk, they did find the barn, along with a seven foot tall, machete wielding hulking wild man that have been feeding on whatever he could catch and, yes, that includes humans.

Long story short, they're monumentally screwed.

Clocking at a good 88 minutes, Charlie's Farm is a gory throwback to 80s slashers, with a story so simple that it sticks pretty focused on building up to the killer's arrival and the slaughtering of these four thrill seekers. (Well, six thanks to some last minute additions, literally just there to add up the kill count) For the first half hour, we get the basic cliches of one-dimensional characters upsetting the locals and sharing campfire tales of Charlie and his family. (Hardcore horror fans would easily recognize the father as the legendary Bill Moseley) It does very little but pad some running time, the characters thankfully not all too bad as personalities. Just as plain as dried nuts.

After finding the barn, finishing the rest of Charlie's story and getting their first hand encounter with the local boogeyman (though dismissed as a dream) the real action starts once the gang decided to split in two groups to explore the place a little better and Charlie himself finally arrives in the flesh; advertised as 7-feet tall and weighs 375 lbs, imagine Rob Zombie's Michael Myers in H2, only more hobo, more animal, and sports a weird back deformity that made his spine visible. Not really the look I have in mind for our new horror king but at least strongman Nathan Jones (of the 2015 Mad Max movie) looked kinda cool in a manic cannibal hobo way, plus his character wields an odd looking weapon that resembles a saw-toothed machete crossed with a billhook, that had to count for something!

Around this part, the film showcased its effects work and it was one of the best I've seen in a slasher flick for a while. There's a few CG assist and the majority of the killings were done with traditional latex and camera tricks, including a lot of impalements (and unimpaling), body parts being ripped out, and a nasty castration. The fun thing about this is that it's worth the wait and Charlie, as I mentioned, is pure badass and he knows it. Not only is he big and ugly, but he can take a lot of damage and even beckons some characters to take their best shot at him. (And one of said characters was Jason Voorhees unmasked himself, Kane Hodder!) He is that smug and I believe this film is no more than a star vehicle for a possible new horror icon. Did it worked though?

I'll be honest, the killings are cool and the man-monster is cooler, but the lack of any original plotting or strong leads to root for made this film kinda plain unless you (like me some times) are just in it for the gore. It could be a new cult classic, much like how Laid to Rest and Hatchet seems to have gathered some small following despite their bare-bone stories but Charlie's Farm can be easily replaced as a viewing choice by a ton other similarly premised horror flicks like Wrong Turn. (Or more likely, Wrong Turn 2) And yet, I'm not going to easily dismiss this film; it has potential from a solid direction to great gore effects (though the lighting could use some work) and I am looking forward for any further franchising featuring this cannibal hobo as he is enough of a reason to watch this film.

Close to mediocre yet far from bad, the movie is a good rental choice for those lonesome nights where you crave for bloody chunks on your simplistic horror stories; a movie made simply to star a maniac just for the maniacs inside all of us! Love it or hate it, you can't go wrong with a single visit to Charlie's Farm!

1 male beheaded with a saw-toothed billhook
1 female ran through and disemboweled with a saw-toothed billhook
1 male and 1 female mentioned murdered, pieces of them seen
1 female seen disemboweled
1 male shot on the head with a hunting rifle
1 female bludgeoned to death
1 male hacked to death with an axe
1 female had her head crushed with a tractor wheel
1 male castrated with a saw-toothed billhook, chocked on a severed groin
1 female had her jaw ripped off
1 male clawed on the throat
1 male nearly beheaded with a hunting knife
1 male gets a thrown hatchet to his back
1 female ran through and disemboweled with a hunting rifle
Total: 15

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Good, Evil and Something about Vengeance: River of Darkness (2011)

River of Darkness (2011)
Rating: *1/2
Starring: Kurt Angle, S. William Hinzman, Kevin Nash 

Before we begin this review, take a quick gander at this movie's box art. Do you see a very action-y wrestling icon Kurt Angle? Do you see that badass gun? Do you see those monstrous eyes foreshadowed at the background? Did you thought this was gonna be a slasher movie? Did you? Did You?!  ANSWER ME!

Sadly, there's no badass soldier versus beastie going at each other in this waste! In fact, there's barely much action going on at all! Just some fishing folks doing tons of exposition while being haunted by a trio of John Carpenter's The Fog rejects who are out to murder those responsible for their unjust deaths. I'm not even sure of what else was I supposed to expect from this as the whole plot is so bare bone basic that you can see a lot of things from afar!

I mean, I just sat through Kurt Angle being the world's most unresponsive sheriff and a whole lot of other yahoos who kept talking about God and vengeance beyond the grave and random vagrants being blamed for a young girl's rape. (That last bit's a spoiler. You're welcome!) What's worse is that the scripting isn't faring any better! No character is all that developed and all we got is one dumb-arse to the next trying their best to be red herrings and meat for the murders. Some, in a form of miracle, succeeded in these roles while others are just plain forgettable. I know acting is not always a slasher movie's highest sell point but EFFORT! If you want dramatics and well defined characters, a little effort goes a long way! But, hey! What else would you expect from, not one, but three wrestling icons?

...Well, seeing that wrestling is fake and it fooled a lot of people thinking it was real in the 80s, I guess a lot! Kane did pretty well as Jacob Goodnight in them See no Evil films but he was tackling the role of a (mostly) mute psycho, much like Kevin Nash and Sid Vicious in this film. Kurt Angle is supposed to be this fish-out-of water sheriff who knows little about the town's dark secret. A secret I'm sure most of you viewers would have known given you're as obsessed with slasher movies as I am.

What's more painful is that we get a hundred and five minutes of this bad acting, sashimi-thin plot, and yet as a slasher it hardly delivered what it could have been its saving point: the kills! Let me see, I got a count of eight dead ones with a bonus "kill" at someone's dream. Many are killed with axes, some with a curved machete (or kukri if you want to be more specific) and then we got three offcamera murders, really worth the rent money!

Now, I will give points for the film's crisp camera quality and their attempt to stray away with the assorted slasher movie cliches and mix in your usual murder-mystery ghost flick schtick but was it all worth it in the end? Did it have a climax that beats all the negativity this film suffers from? Nope, just a weak gunfight against Angle and three supernatural undeads with the power to teleport and are pretty much immortal. No explosions. No monstrous rage. Just mannequin-esque zombies teleporting in and out while fish-out-of-water sheriff tries to shoot them. I wasted nearly two hours for that?!
Hopefully one of the producers...
If I could only get back all the wasted brain cells killed off by this garbage, I will use it to stop myself and watch something else better. John Carpenter's The Fog is an obvious replacement choice but I think I'll go with pretty much any other slasher or horror flick for this one's case. Heck, I would even watch a Troma movie and, considering my love-hate relationship with those films, it is a big of a deal!

1 female disemboweled with a kukri
1 male killed, later found impaled on hooks
1 male ran through the chest with a fishing gaft
1 male hacked to death with axes
1 male stabbed on the chest with a kukri, hacked with an axe, (dream)
1 female pulled into the water, killed
1 girl drowned offcamera
1 male axed on the head
1 male shot on the head with a rifle, hacked with axes
Total: 9

Monday, June 22, 2015

Undead Satanist in Spandex: Grave Robbers (1990)

Grave Robbers (Ladrones De Tumbas) (Mexico, 1990)
Rating: ****
Starring:  Fernando Almada, Edna Bolkan, Erika Buenfil

Just when you thought 80s Mexican slashers couldn't get any crazier!

It appears the churches of middle age Spain had to deal with Satanic traitors among them as one tried to impregnate a virgin within the catacombs of their own sacred ground. Luckily, Satanic Padre's God-fearing brethren came to stop him in time and gave him the ole' middle age torture treatment until he admits his pact with the Devil.

Seeing his soul is far from saving, the priests did what any holy man would do: curse a battle axe to hold his spirit trapped in his rotting body for eternity, until some curious idiot takes it out and free him to continue his murderous spree. Not exactly the most Christian thing I've seen so far but hey, I've seen worse!

So we now fast-forward to the present (or the late 80s, evident from the bouncy frizzy hair and mullets) where a gang of teenagers decided to ransack a local grave after finding out that it might have hidden valuables that they could sell off. So instead of partying that night like any normal teeners would, these kids hop into dug graves and secret passages to find that there are indeed treasures to be found, including that of an antique battle axe curiously stuck on a corpse's chest cavity.

And wouldn't you know it, they pulled it out.

Unknowingly releasing a now-undead murderous Satanist (in spandex!), the gang soon becomes the immediate victims for the revenant's murder spree, along with the usual cops, girls partying in the woods, and one priest who knows what's going on. Will anyone be safe from the tights-wearing zombie axe murderer? Only an old cop and the standard virginal final girl would know!

So as you can see, Grave Robbers is a pretty standard slasher with a few creative and highly entertaining quirks that put a spin to your usual slasher film tropes. While Satanic rituals isn't entirely new for this sub-genre in the 80s, as films like Midnight (1982) and Hack-o-Lantern (1987) used this backdrop as their killer's motive, none of them has the cheesy feel and execution as Grave Robbers did with its villain; while the aforementioned films utilize the cult through simple rites, this film decided to put some supernatural action into its foray by letting its killer use other powers such as telekinesis, teleportation, regeneration, transmutation with his surroundings, and in one utterly gory scene, the ability to disembowel a victim from the inside of their own gut. Think of it as that 80s witch slasher gorefest Superstition (1982), only with a balanced scale between of what is a slasher and what is a supernatural gore flick. There's also a bit of Omen (1976) influence going on as Spandex Satanist tries to impregnate a virgin victim in hopes of releasing the Antichrist to the mortal world and just like that 70s classic, the climax involved our heroes trying to stop him before it is too late, with additional fist fights!

Not much to say about the acting as they do come out okay as far as cheesy lines are concerned. Much like most slasher victims, they don't stick around pretty long since the killer wastes no time offing them once he gets the chance. Thankfully, we do have some considerable casts that rightfully deserve their survival, not because they're developed, but because they're just pretty fun to have around.

Above all of this, I really love the effects in this film; hacked faces, necks chopped with battle axes, messy viscera, the only time it looked a little loopy was that one hand-hacking scene but the rest is a gorehound's paradise. Heck, even the zombie looks pretty cool; looking pass his odd choice of legwear, he looks pretty badass with his hooded cloak and chains. He has the Jason Voorhees spirit, backwoods stalking and painlessly unflinching whenever he gets damaged. The only odd thing about him is the whole impregnating goal; I dunno, I'm never for one in regards to necrophilia but...how exactly was he gonna do it? He used to be all bones and his current zombie state isn't any better so...? (Please don't go there. I beg you. Nekromantik was enough to scar me)

Eitherways, Grave Robbers isn't going to win for an original plot as this is basically The Omen intercoursed with a post-A New Beginning Friday The 13th sequel but the final product is a solid late 80s/early 90s slasher from Mexico that packs a whole lot of gory fun and good goodah. Check it out whenever you get the chance!

1 male hacked on the chest with a battle axe
1 male had his neck cut with a battle axe
1 male hacked on the forehead with a battle axe
2 victims seen murdered
1 female pulled into a pond, drowned
1 female had her head twisted
1 female killed, later found hanging from a tree
1 female beheaded with a battle axe
1 male disemboweled with a demonic arm
1 male had his neck crushed with a demonic arm
1 female hacked on the face with a battle axe
1 female had her head crushed through iron bars
1 male murdered offcamera
Total: 14

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Attack of Rambo Bates: Possession: Until Death Do You Part (1987)

Possession: Until Death Do you Part (1987)
Rating: **1/2
Starring: John Johnston, Sharlene Martin, Cat Williams

True to most cases, a collector's pride is to own every single thing that can be added to their hoard, no matter how rare or obscure it is.

It adds a sense of challenge and thrill to what could be a strange hobby and for that matter, I do consider this slasher collection of mine as my only successful stash (even if most of them are digital downloads) and this blog, one of my records of this feat. (The other record is a set of journals where I listed the titles and death toll. Yeah, I'm that kind of weirdo) From time to time, I do get to see some of the rarer and obscure titles to be released under this sub-genre, some of which are hard to get by and generously provided to me by some cool peeps out there who shares my passion and are lucky enough to get their hands on one. Among them are titles like Shock-Diversão Diabólica(1984) , City in Panic (1986), Posed for Murder (1989) and Deadly Sins (1996).

Now, I (sort of) warmly welcome a new addition to these rarities:, Possession: Until Death Do You Part (1987). Why "sort of", you ask? Well...

Possession is a low-budget cauldron of melted cheese with Psycho (1960) and Friday the 13th (1980) as its main ingredients; the first half hour has Frankie, a psycho who lives with his mum and has a deadly fixation on finding the perfect girlfreind. On this night, he is playing around with Madeline, a woman he kidnapped from a nearby parking garage, forcing her to wear his mum's clothes before going at a childish fit and storming out when Madeline did not wear it right.

During this leave, Frankie is lectured and warned by said mum (who apparently is well aware of her son's obsession and murderous streak) that she'll leave him "just like the others" and true enough upon his return, Madeline managed to escape and ran all the way back to her friend's apartment. This sets Frankie to murder his own mum out of rage and hunt down the one that got away, only to be chased down by pursuing cops after they were informed of his deeds. It all leads to a shoot-out at some docks, where Frankie's getaway rowboat explodes after being shot multiple times. (Yes. Apparently, 80s science involves rowboats that explodes when shot repeatedly enough)

Assuming he's dead, the girls decided to have some fun by going to the woods and party with hired male strippers. (I kid you not) Unfortunately for them, Frank's alive and he's continuing his stalking spree, killing off some of Madeline's gal pals, pizza guys, and dumb boyfriends before finding out where she's at via answering machine.

Plot-wise, Possession isn't all that interested in breaking any cliches that we have seen millions of times from other slasher flicks of its era. If anything, though, they did attempt to give some character to their main killer by molding him after Psycho's own Norman Bates, mother-dominated and all, but once the girls head out to the woods, he was reduced to a snickering goofball with a camouflage face-paint and a mean machete. The rest of the cast are hardly memorable thanks to a horrible combination of amateurism, absence of characterization, and weak writing. Many of them died on screen without any real purpose apart from pumping up the kill count and I'm dang positive we were supposed to root for some of them, only I couldn't. For a lot of obviously good reason.

Thankfully, as much as the weak writing and disposable characters would have ruined this viewing, Possession has the charm of being "fun" outside the horror sequences. Yes, this is a slasher and the killings are supposed to be its main sell-point, but the murders are down-to-earth basic, like strangulation, stabbings, and one death by car engine, so there isn't much to go with on that department. Instead, the film won my attention for all the stupid things these characters do and all the weird shit you don't normally see in an ordinary hack-and-slash. I know we got female nudity as the staple exploit from this sub-genre, but Possession decided to cater both men and women by giving us not one, but two male stripping scenes! (with sleekly oiled dude bums. Don't worry, we got at least 3 female shower scenes, if you're into that)

Not weird enough? How often do you get characters hopping into their car and track down the psycho who kidnapped their friend after the cops wouldn't do anything about it? Take note this actually happened 20 minutes into the film and the result is anything but scary or intense! Or how about the fact that our killer mourns his dead mum's grave that is a cardboard-looking tombstone, simply saying "R.I.P. Mother"! I couldn't stop chuckling!

The film is hilariously bad that you can't help but simply shut off and just let the goofiness of the film sink in. Thankfully, the movie moves at a decent pace once the weird first 30 minutes of Z-grade psycho-drama was up, giving us all the basic slasher goodness that may or may not answer your need for blood, guts, and feisty fondue.

Possession is simple a slasher and while it does show it was aiming for more than that, in the end, it is exactly just another film about a killer in the woods (and some apartments) offing people. It may have failed at giving us an original plot but its wonky direction, hilariously bad characters and quick pacing worked very well as a fail-safe that made this film bearable at a level. Not sure if I could recommend this but if you're open for bad cheese and/or rare slashers, then see it whenever you get the very slim chance!

1 female seen dead
1 female seen dead
1 female seen impaled on a spike
1 female pulled dead out of a trunk
1 elderly female strangled, neck broken
1 male knifed
1 female knifed on the back
1  male ran through with a screwdriver
1 male found knifed on the back
1 female drowned in a tub
1 male forced face-first to a car engine, shredded
1 male bludgeoned with a dead branch
1 female gets a throat cut with a knife
1 female had her throat crushed with a tightened belt
1 female stabbed with a scorched fire poker
Total: 15

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Yesterday I saw and loved...

 1. The working vacation resort/zoo

 2. Chris Pratt

 3. Trained Raptors

4. Chris Pratt and Trained Raptors in an epic bike scene

 5. Indominus Rex


7. And lastly:

It was a day to remember and a movie worth waiting. I saw it on 3D and got free posters for being the first to see it on my country's opening. (supposedly just one but the ticket lady didn't notice she handed me two...)

Yesterday I saw and loved JURASSIC WORLD. And I'm still LOVING IT!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

May 29 2015

Rest in heaven
Rest in peace
In God's love
You will be missed

R.I.P. Betsy Palmer

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

It Does Not Give Up: It Follows (2014)

It Follows (2014)
Rating: ****
Starring:  Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Olivia Luccardi

Just when you thought horror flicks are becoming more recycled nowadays, something like It Follows happen. It's not a slasher, but it knows how to be influenced by one and churn up what it learned for its own good.

Opening with a random girl in a panicked state, we see her run out of her own house before driving off to the beach. There, she calls her father and says her goodbyes as something unseen makes their presence known to the girl. By morning, she is dead, her leg mangled up in the most shocking visage.

Could the fate of the girl on the left be the same for our
mellow heroine on the right?
We then switch our attention to Jay, a college student in Michigan who's as normal as any teenagers can be, loves to swim, hang out with her hipster-esque friends and her boyfriend, Hugh. The two eventually hook up and have sex in an abandoned building one night, an event that is, apparently, for the worst.

It turns out that by doing it with her, Hugh passed a curse to Jay. The curse takes form of an entity that stalks the last end of the chain with the intent of killing them before going back to the ones who passed it. Only those who are cursed can see this entity and, to make matters more complicated, it changes its appearance to any person of age and/or gender.

Jay is then left to fend for herself against this entity, who now has taken its close chances to kill her off first hauntingly across her campus' hallways, and then later at her own home. When the attacks place Jay at her wit's end, her friends took notice and help her out with what could be a real phenomenon. Surely enough, they themselves see what the entity is capable of and it is only a matter of time before it gets to their friend. With very little options in stopping the creature and with her friends now in the line of danger, Jay has no choice but to find a way, any desperate way, to stop it.

You have no idea how many time looking back
saved this girl's life.
The best way to describe It Follows is pretty much said by most reviewers out there; dream-like. This is no surprise as writer and director David Robert Mitchell got the idea of this film from a recurring nightmare he had when he was younger, wherein he is similarly stalked by an unseen creature. Due to this, much of the film’s execution dwells on the curious side; there is nightmare logic surrounding the whole premise, with no clear indication to when the entire film takes place (it’s “now” but with black-and-white vintage horror being played in a 50s style TVs and a futuristic eBook reading device that looks like a cross between a Smartphone and a girl’s powder kit) and the unwavering focus on teenagers turned adults into disembodied voices, background on-goings, and forms the entity takes.

Many may say that the film is a metaphor of teenage perspective, which is all not that far from the truth as themes of repression and fear of sexual infection are played around, along with other teenage dilemmas such as drug dependency (Jay was given a full meal and a pill at one scene. All she took was the pill) and suicide (Jay running her leg against a blade of grass), though by a lesser extent.  By mixing this hinted drama with the horror of the supernatural, It Follows somehow found a way to make it all work and deliver a chilling and expressive horror film that relies little on gimmick and more on what could make us unnerve, psychologically and emotionally.

The film borrows a lot of elements from other horror sub-genres, mainly slashers and ghost films, to make it as creepy as possible. While the curse angle is obviously a tribute to the supernatural, most of the other influence would be put to use in shaping the entity itself as it behaves quite similar to our human monsters, slowly walking, getting up whenever it appears wounded, and preferring to use its brute strength to do its killings than exploit its own supernatural nature. The very fact that it also changes appearance can come quite shocking and uneasy; in one scene, we see this entity take form of a girl and casually walk in to a beach full of people. One could never expect that it is the entity as the form it takes perfectly blends in and no one will notice until it begins hurting and killing whoever it is after.

Comforted by her teenage friends, It took the form of a
familiar adult in the latter act.
With the little to no explanation given to what the curse is and why it behaves this way, the hopelessness of the situation is another working actor that makes It Follows scary. Some of the executions for the attacks did come quite comical, however, but this can be overlooked with the film’s other technical advantages such as the Halloween (1978) inspired soundtrack, shocking visuals, and atmospheric editing.

I can honestly say that this film earned the right to be included as one of the films to beat for modern horror. Interestingly, a lot of our modern indie releases are becoming quite imaginative and skilled, and Mr. Mitchell proves himself with this instant cult classic that he can be a worthy name for this genre. That being said, I am proud to have finally seen this unique take on all things familiar and for those who haven’t, keep an eye on this one. It’s a keeper!

1 female killed offscreen, later found mangled
1 male killed offcamera, method unknown
Total: 2

Monday, June 1, 2015

Cheer! Cheer! Bloody Fear!!: Spirit Camp (2009)

Spirit Camp (2009)
Rating: ***
Starring: Kerry Beyer, Julin, Brandon Smith

Paint-by-number is a phrase that is likely to get used a lot when folks describe a slasher movie. It's a pain for some to see a movie with basically the same plot as the ten others would have under the same sub-genre, but for a few, a copy-pasted plot can be forgiven with factors such as execution, characterization, special effects, or entertaining cheesiness.

Spirit Camp is a movie that took the simplest 80s backwoods slasher plot and basically used cheerleaders as a plot point. Would have been really impressive if it was the first to do this but seeing we already have films like Cheerleader Camp (1987) and The Cheerleader Massacre (2003), the film would have been a failed attempt but thankfully, it managed to pull off a decent amount of entertaining cheese and some neat twists to keep the bodycounter in all of us entertained.

In the simplest way to describe the story, it's about five girls attending cheerleading camp to help them boost their morale and practice their routine for an upcoming game. Sticking out like a stick on a mud pile is one Nikki (Roxy Vandiver), a lonesome punkette with a criminal record and a spiky hairdo, who is only in this charade of pigtails and pom-poms cuz it'll help her lessen her parole. Things start off rather simple for these gals until, one by one, team mates and visiting boyfriends began to disappear. Could it be the doings of an escaped convict from a nearby facility? Or perhaps it's the wrath of the huge groundskeeper who's always holding an axe? Who ever it is, they'll stop at nothing until all of these airheads are dead on the ground, that is until some of said airheads (and Nikki) start to fight back.

There's not much to complain about except, perhaps, the lack of proper acting to make some of the would-be harrowing scenes much more exciting to watch, and the noticeably uninspired killings, most of which occurring offscreen. Of course, I do understand that these are likely due to budget constrains so I will let it slide, but a little variation on the murders wouldn't hurt, especially for a slasher movie. (I believe they used the same axe kill make-up twice, each on different actors and scenes)

Apart from this, I did enjoyed Spirit Camp since it respectfully captured the feel of 80s backwoods slashers it pays tribute to; the cast are, I believe intentionally, cheesy to parody the very slasher victims they are portraying, and a good dose of red herrings are placed around with minimal screen time, for us to ponder around and suspect once the murdering starts. The only one with depth is our punkette heroine who was given an insightful character and enough wit to challenge not only the killer, but also the outrageous authority figures around camp.

When it comes to the horror portions, Spirit Camp kept it calm yet bloody; the murders, as mentioned, are restrained to shots of a weapon slashing or dropping, cutting to the aftermath of said slaughter. I find this an endearing way to save budget while still keeping the spirit of a slasher film alive but, as mentioned again, the killer's limitation of using an axe and a knife gets pretty repetitive, with the only other weapon they wielded was a knitting needle. I'm also not a big fan of the killer's dollface mask as it comes off quite silly at times, completely in contrast to the serious body language of the murderer; nonetheless, seeing this is a cheesy slasher, I guess its in the right place.

Production wise, Spirit Camp boasts an impressive looking camera and light work and a direction that is fast enough to keep us on our feet. It did slowed down around the last third when nearly all of the cheerleaders are killed, focusing a bit on the whodunit play as our surviving casts suspects one red herring character to the next to be their killer. It soon reveals a twist that, while I honestly didn't expected it, seeing how obviously cliched some of their attempted might-be killers were, the reveal was underwhelming.

Still, the whole film was fun no matter how many ways I try to look at it. It is certainly not a movie trying to reinvent anything but is simply there to exist and be enjoyed. Rent it!

1 male found with his gut spilled open
1 female hacked with an axe
1 female strangled to death
1 female hacked with an axe offscreen
1 female knifed on the head
1 female stabbed on the eye with a knitting needle
1 male hacked with an axe, left for dead
1 male found slaughtered
1 female knifed
1 male found axed on the back
1 female knifed on the gut
1 male axed on the back
1 female found tied dead on a tree, covered in stabs
Total: 13